Amazing changes have taken place since Automotive News Europe named its first list of the 25 Leading Women in the European Automotive Industry in June 2008. The industry and world have survived the Great Recession that followed the Lehman Bros. collapse and caused a six-year vehicle-sales slump in Europe. Apple went from being a smartphone newcomer to giant in the sector. The iPad wasn’t born yet and an electric car from Apple was considered pure fantasy. Eight years ago Google was solidifying its place as a dominant internet search engine but no one was talking about it launching a driver-less pod that would completely change the way people view individual mobility.
The European automotive industry has also undergone massive changes since 2008, especially when it comes to the rise of female executives. Eight years ago no woman ran a European automotive brand – now there are two – and there were just a handful of females on the management boards at the region’s leading automotive companies – now nearly every brand has women in key positions.
As Automotive News Europe, in cooperation with our partner Deloitte, put together the current list of Europe's 25 most powerful female auto industry executives it was immediately evident that women have taken huge steps forward at all levels.
Today, Annette Winkler, who is the only executive to make the 2008 and 2016 Leading Women lists, is head of Daimler's small-car brand Smart and Linda Jackson is CEO at Citroen, making her a double winner when it comes to diversity as she is also the first British executive to run the iconic French brand.
A closer look at our list of Leading Women shows that 13 of our 25 winners are based in Germany, five are located in France, three in the UK, two in Sweden and one each in Spain and Belgium. Our winners were born in Germany, France, Spain, Sweden, England, Wales, Switzerland, Iran and the U.S.
The 2016 list honors one female executive each from Nissan and Toyota, which is an improvement on 2008 when neither Japanese company had a representative in our group of 25.