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Home » Women in business » Revving up careers with one of the world’s most iconic ultra-luxury brands

Marissa Bole

Head of Integration,
Aston Martin Lagonda

Victoria Horrey

Programme Manager,
Aston Martin Lagonda

Veena Thankachan

Infotainment Manager,
Aston Martin Lagonda

Hilary Andrew

Team Leader,
Aston Martin Lagonda

Four women working at one of the world’s most iconic brands — who took different routes into the business — reveal how to thrive in the automotive sector, irrespective of your gender.

Like many people, Marissa Bole gets a thrill whenever she sees an Aston Martin on the road. This is, after all, one of the most famous marques in the world, driven by everyone from James Bond and Oscar nominated actor Felicity Jones to King Charles. 

It’s rather different in Bole’s case, however, because she may have played a part in the car’s creation. As Head of Integration at Aston Martin Lagonda, she’s the engineer responsible for all vehicle-level software for all car lines across the business. “I come from a background where I only saw Aston Martins in films or on TV,” she says. “So, to see one on the road that I’ve been involved with — such as the latest DBX707 — is a great feeling.” 

Bole wanted to be an engineer from a young age. “After leaving university with a degree in mechanical engineering, I started my career in motorsports before moving into automotive,” she says. “In engineering, every day is different. It’s not a job you do on repeat.” 

She is one of a growing number of female leaders at Aston Martin, as the company accelerates towards a target of achieving 25% female leadership within the next five years and attracting new talent to what has historically been an overwhelmingly male dominated industry.

Gaining experience in different areas of the business 

Victoria Horrey, the company’s Programme Manager, agrees. She took a different route into the business and is responsible for coordinating the delivery of vehicles — from the concept phase to the start of production. “I don’t have a degree,” she says. “I started with the company 15 years ago as a personal assistant before moving into various departments. That’s the thing here: if you’re interested in working in a specific area, then management is open to giving you that opportunity. That’s why I say to anyone interested in a STEM career: ‘There’s always a way in if you’re determined enough.’” 

A supportive, close-knit work environment 

Veena Thankachan, an Infotainment Manager at Aston Martin, is responsible for in-car touch screens, displays and audio systems and says that part of the joy of her job is working for an ultra-luxury brand. “It helps to work for a company where the cars are so highly appreciated,” she notes. “But, for me, the most important factor in any workplace is the people. Although my team is relatively new, it’s made up of like-minded individuals who are helpful, innovative and thrive on a challenge.” 

Wherever they work, staff should feel valued and supported by their employers, says Hilary Andrew, Team Leader at the car company who is responsible for the delivery of cost, timing and engineering of V12 sports cars.  

“I started here as an intern after completing my mechanical engineering degree. I was supposed to stay for three months — but that was nearly 10 years ago! I’ve been lucky enough to be placed in seven different departments, which probably wouldn’t happen at a mass manufacturer. Also, because we’re smaller, management knows everyone. It feels like a family here. We’re able to voice our opinions and, if we disagree, we do so respectfully.” 

Focus on personal growth and improving skillsets 

Bole and Horrey reveal that they have a strong focus on delivering its programmes through its people, with both women taking part in a recent ‘Empowering Females in Leadership’ pilot. “This business isn’t just about solving technical challenges. It’s also about developing those who work here,” says Bole. 

Automotive is open to anyone of any background, says Andrew — although it’s still a male-dominated sector. “I’ve never had any issue with that,” she insists. “But, as an industry, we must tackle unconscious bias and misgendering. Don’t always assume that an engineer will be a man.” 

Thankachan, meanwhile, has sound advice for any woman considering a STEM career. “Go in with a focus on personal growth and improving your skillsets,” she says. “Everyone should do that, irrespective of their gender. Lean into your strengths and do your best. With that mindset, you can accomplish anything.” 

Inspiring young people to pursue careers in manufacturing

Chief People Officer, Simon Smith, states “At Aston Martin we believe that we meet every challenge as a team, putting faith in the unique insight and expertise that everyone brings.We seek and cherish diverse perspectives. To do this we must not only offer opportunity to everyone, but also develop role models to inspire others.  We are therefore extremely focused on recruiting and developing women within our business, with a focus on increasing our female proportion of leaders and engineers.  Our plan to achieve this goal centres on creating a more inclusive culture, including training to embed inclusive behaviours, reviewing our policy framework and tailored leadership development.  We also engage with local schools to promote STEM opportunities, with the aim of encouraging more young people to pursue careers in manufacturing and advanced engineering.”

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