Go for it! Snows Group managers on why the motor trade is no longer just a man’s world

From left to right, Diana Mackinnon, Lucinda Hall, Katie Johnson and Lorraine Wagstaffe.

It may be a well-worn cliche – but the car sales business is still sometimes seen as ‘a man’s world’. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we're keen to demonstrate that doesn’t have to be the case!

Snows Motor Group, based in Southampton, Hampshire, operates more than 50 franchised car and van dealerships across the south and south-west of England – and talented and hard-working women are represented at all levels of the company.

A key part of the business that demonstrates this is Snows’ BMW and MINI operation, with showrooms and service departments in Portsmouth and on the Isle of Wight.

Head of business there is Diana Mackinnon, who said: ‘‘When looking back on a career that started in 1987, I’m pleased to say that attitudes have changed for the better. At that time, I never questioned why I had to work twice as hard as my male colleagues.

‘‘Change started to come about when the treatment of women in our industry began to attract more attention. Whereas I felt male colleagues could get away with ‘‘talking the talk’’, I was always under far more pressure to demonstrate what I was capable of. That old saying ‘the figures don’t lie’ was certainly a factor!’’

Diana added: ‘‘We have to stop talking about automotive being a male-dominated environment. It’s not the case any more as companies such as Snows demonstrate. We need to become an industry of choice.’’

Asked to offer a few words of advice to potential female motor trade recruits, Diana said: ‘‘See beyond the cars. Look at the brand, the job role, the satisfaction that working in our environment can deliver. I have a fabulous team of young ladies working for me at Snows and they all love what they do. No two days are the same!’’

An important member of Diana’s team is Sales Manager for BMW and MINI on the Isle of Wight, Katie Johnson, who has made impressive career progress since joining Snows two years ago.

She said: ‘‘The stereotype is still there that the motor trade is seen as a male environment but since joining Snows, I have been more supported and encouraged than at any other time in my career. This has given me the confidence to make progress and bring female colleagues with me, knowing we are all supported. The job is demanding but to see the results coming in, and the progression in my team, makes the hard work worthwhile.’’

Asked whether she would encourage other women to pursue a career in the motor trade, Katie said: ‘‘Definitely! There’s absolutely no reason why they shouldn’t.’’

Crucial to the success of Snows’ BMW and MINI operation are its service departments. Lorraine Wagstaffe is Service Manager for MINI on the mainland; while Lucinda Hall holds the equivalent role for both brands on the Isle of Wight.

Lorraine is currently enjoying her second spell with the company, having rejoined in 2018 after four years away. Recently promoted to her current position, she said: ‘‘We live in a world of equality and everyone should have the chance to pursue a career in the industry of their choosing. There is more to Snows and the motor industry than people might realise – and there are many career paths to choose from within this friendly, family-built company.

‘‘As a new manager, I will be learning along the way with support from my peers, colleagues and other departments to ensure Snows MINI Portsmouth has an optimistic MINI attitude to life!’’

Lucinda Hall certainly seems happy at Snows and has been with the company for eight years. She said: ‘‘Snows is a genuinely diverse company and has a real passion for growing talent. A woman couldn’t ask for a more supportive company to be a part of.

‘‘I enjoy the varied challenges that each day presents. It is so rewarding having the opportunity to coach and train members of the team and help them reach their goals.’’

Does she have any advice for women considering a career in the motor trade? ‘‘Go for it – 100 per cent! The automotive industry is exciting and there are so many opportunities. I have had some amazing and rewarding experiences during my time with Snows!’’

Snows PR Support: 07309 740052