Holidaying In An EV – Our Guide For A UK Winter Road Trip
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Today is International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate women’s achievements across the world, as well as to raise awareness of and reflect on the need to actively seek ways of advancing women’s equality.
In their 2020 study, Deloitte UK revealed that a mere 20% of the automotive workforce and less than 10% of executives identify as female. The research also revealed that 40% of women working in automotive would choose a different industry if they were starting their career again, whilst a staggering 90% of participants feel women are under‑represented in leadership positions.
The automotive industry demographics are showing signs of change, particularly as electric mobility and EV charging are becoming more prominent. To celebrate International Women’s Day 2023, we asked the women in our company to share their thoughts, experiences and advice regarding working within the EV charging industry.
Noelia Gale, Principal Tech Advisor at Mer UK, entered the industry two years ago, as a software developer. ‘I was immediately shocked to find how intricate e-mobility is, the huge amount of room for innovation in it. The collaboration within this industry is like no other, how we’re all working together to make EV charging widely accessible. I was drawn immediately to the detail of how EVs connect to the infrastructure, how much can be done to bridge this interaction from a STEM perspective, and what a huge impact this has on EV owners and drivers.’
Natasha Fry, Head of Strategic Accounts at Mer Fleet Services, joined Mer in October 2018. ‘I worked for a major fleet organisation for 18 years so had a fair bit of knowledge around the huge task ahead; in shifting mobility from diesel powered to electric. I had a passion for wanting to be involved and make a difference, and I wanted to make a difference NOW so I joined Elmtronics.’
For Lauren Evers, Project Manager at Mer Fleet Services, the ‘main draw of joining Mer and the EV sector was to be part a green sector and company, which actively supported sustainable energy and it’s future.’ As well as the support and culture at Mer, Lauren enjoys ‘the shared ethos of supporting the green energy and it’s roll-out across the UK.’
Jerry-Ray Pearce, Operations Support Executive at Mer UK Public Charging, joined the EV industry in November 2021. She enjoys ‘the friendly and supportive atmosphere at Mer. Everyone is very welcoming and willing to help each other out.’ She notes that the ‘EV industry is a fast-paced sector and therefore the work can be both interesting and challenging, which keeps me motivated and engaged.’
Helen Fox-Walker, Head of Business Innovation at Mer UK Public Charging, saw EV charging as an opportunity to work within a growing industry. ‘I’ve been in the retail energy industry since about 2010 and during my career I worked for EON energy. In 2018, I got the opportunity to move into EON Drive, which was their EV sector. The reason I moved because it was a time when the Government legislation was just starting to accelerate around carbon neutrality and pushing towards EV, and there were more subsidies coming for people purchasing EVs, etc. You could start to recognise that the infrastructure we had out there didn’t support the number of vehicles that the Government wanted to put in place. So, the driver for me moving into EV was that I saw it as an opportunity to move into a sector which was still quite immature, which would, I believed (rightly so) explode over the next few years, and therefore offer me a much wider career progression opportunity.’
How we can achieve better gender representation in the automotive and e-mobility industries, and encourage and empower more women to join, is an important ongoing conversation.
Emma Spark, Mer Fleet Services’ Head of Business Charging, was in the motor trade for twenty years. ‘There definitely wasn’t a balance there, not in 1997 when I started – I was the only female there for a number of years, and I did have to prove myself, I had to work much harder to be recognised. It was very cut-throat, but I held my own and it made me more determined and a stronger person because of it.’
For Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Warren, Head of Business Management at Mer UK, it is about ‘standing next to each other. […] I think for women who are already in the industry and who are already getting up through their career, it is all about bringing women up with you and really supporting them, helping to mentor them if you can. […] It’s about saying ‘here are your opportunities, it is safe to take that step – it’s about making that available. You just need to give them that sort of environment to develop into.’
Natasha says ‘For me, I’ve been super lucky with the leaders around me. I have always been treated equally. It’s about using your voice to speak up and share ideas, it’s about the teams around you creating a safe space where you can be heard. All organisations have a responsibility to choose the individual that is right for the role and this starts with the leadership team. If these are the right individuals, gender equality should be a given!’
Noelia says ‘I honestly believe there are no barriers at all; we simply need to continue debunking old stereotypes that affect both women and the industry negatively. For this industry in particular, I think there is a general feeling of ‘this may be too complex’, and I think the best we can all do is to strongly, actively advocate against that. Not only it’s not too complex, but also the collaboration and openness of the people in it, across the entire industry, make it accessible for anyone regardless of gender, origin, ethnicity, identification… arms are open, that is how I see it.’
Louise Gillingham, Head of HR at Mer UK, thinks ‘we can do a lot with our employer brand, and also get out there and talk to colleges, universities. We have a lot of inspiring colleagues that work here that can help us promote Mer and the charging industry as an amazing place to work.’
Jade Slavin, Account Manager at Mer Fleet Services, joined the EV charging industry in 2019. She believes ‘showing successful women in the industry with case studies. We have many managers in the company who are women and have great success stories. Perhaps showcasing this will encourage other women that they can too do the same.’
Jerry-Ray agrees: ‘We can encourage and empower more women to enter the EV industry by providing resources and support networks for them. This could include mentorship programs and educational opportunities. Additionally, we can create an environment that is welcoming and inclusive for women to pursue careers in the EV industry.’
‘We just need more visibility,’ says Helen. ‘It’s difficult to know how to get that visibility out there – still because of the size of the sector, I think – people who are in EV look at EV, and people who are outside EV don’t really look at EV beyond what sort of cars there are.’ Helen noted current platforms in the industry that are empowering women: ‘The EV Summit do ‘Top Women In EV’ which is great, where you get to nominate women and get more visibility.’
For those who are new to EV charging, Isabelle Osborne, Content Lead at Mer UK Public Charging, encourages them to have confidence in their abilities. ‘If you are interested in entering this industry but find yourself doubting whether you have the knowledge or skills to succeed, my advice would be to forget your fears and take the leap. We all have unique skillsets, and everyone can bring so much into this sector, regardless of previous professional experience. All you need is an open and curious mind, a willingness to embrace the challenge, and a good work ethic. The industry is still in its infancy, and you can absolutely grow and develop alongside it.’
Jade says ‘Don’t be afraid to take a chance. I had no knowledge in the industry and I have learned and developed so much as a person during my career with Mer.’
Lauren encourages readers to ‘Go for it! It’s an inspirational industry to be involved in, and gives the job satisfaction that a lot of other industries can’t provide. Even after a bad day on the job, you’re still supporting a sustainable future!’
Emma says ‘It’s never too late to make a change. It’s hard, I’m not going to say it’s easy, there’s an awful lot to learn, however there’s no reason why you can’t do that. Go back to the drawing board and challenge yourself I would say, give yourself a new direction and be open to learning something new. I would say it’s never too late to do that.’
Liz agrees: ‘Don’t be scared to make the jump. Sometimes learning a whole new industry if you’re coming from somewhere else is a fantastic thing. I personally have done that three times, and I have loved it. It’s hard for the first year and a half, but it’s totally worth it to bring yourself up that learning scale.’
‘Embrace it,’ concludes Louise. ‘[It’s] fast paced and you really can make a difference. Take the opportunity and run with it.’
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