At MINI Plant Oxford, two female engineers have been hand-picked by Autocar to receive national acknowledgement. Named as ‘Rising Stars’ in the ‘Great British Women in the Car Industry’ initiative, Philippa Napier and Rachel Neary are now industry award-winners.

Leading automotive magazine Autocar gave the awards in partnership with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), in which 10 young females ‘making their mark on the industry and blazing a trail for more to follow’ were recognised in the ‘Rising Stars’ category. Altogether, 100 British women in the automotive industry were acclaimed, celebrating women in the field and addressing the challenges they face.

As a final-year engineering technician apprentice at MINI Plant Oxford, Philippa, who is 22 and from Thame in Oxfordshire, has had a passion for cars from a young age. By working at MINI, Philippa has achieved her ambition to enter the automotive profession already. Work experience started this off, which then led to an apprenticeship that includes a foundation degree in electrical and electronic engineering. When Philippa graduates, she’ll begin her career as a quality parts manager.

Philippa said: ‘It’s really rewarding to be recognised in this way and so I’m delighted to have made the list. Initiatives like this are so important in raising awareness of female achievement in our industry and getting more of us to consider a career in engineering.’

Rachel Neary from Liverpool joined the BMW Group’s graduate scheme in 2013 and has already held roles in Munich and at Werk Leipzig. Now based in Oxford, the 25-year-old is part of MINI’s production steering team, managing the transformation of sheet metal to painted body.

Rachel said, ‘I’m really excited and proud to be named in the Autocar Rising Stars list – it is a brilliant motivator to be recognised in such a way at the start of my career. It’s always been my ambition to be involved in the automotive industry and I’ve long been fascinated with cars, how they work and how they’re made… It’s great to see more women than ever within the automotive industry and to see such achievements celebrated and encouraged’.

MINI Plant Oxford Managing Director, Frank Bachmann, said: ‘Everyone on the plant is really proud of what Rachel and Philippa have achieved. I believe they both have very bright futures ahead of them and that their stories can play a part in encouraging more young women into automotive manufacturing careers.’

In addition to apprenticeship opportunities, the BMW Group UK takes females in the automotive industry seriously, running a unique programme called ‘Girls Go Technical’ to encourage exposure and participation in automotive engineering, where young females follow MINI production all the way through from start to finish.

Are you a female aged 15 – 24? Experience the day-to-day challenges that BMW engineers and technical apprentices encounter as you spend four days at the heart of BMW manufacturing in our state-of-the-art Oxford, Swindon and Hams Hall facilities, gaining valuable insight into engineering processes and careers available. Better yet, you’ll also be able to improve your interview and job application skills.

Keep an eye out as this autumn, applications for February 2017 ‘Girls Go Technical’ placements will open – you could be a future Autocar award-winner. To get a taste of what to expect, come and meet the team at Lancaster MINI Milton Keynes and we’ll show you around the current MINI model range.