Accelerating through the glass ceiling

Emma Pugsley – Ford Operations Manager

Productivity in the workplace is improved when gender equality is supported within that business. Inclusive teams make better business decisions 87 per cent of the time and a study cited by The i Paper from The Pipeline also ‘found that there is a sharp difference in the net profit margins of companies that have diverse gender leaderships compared to those that don’t’.

Businesses can be harmed by not having enough women making important decisions.

At Fordthorne we are family owned and run, with inclusivity at the core of our business. The automotive industry is historically male dominated, and we want to showcase those who have broken the mould and succeeded. Emma Pugsley is our Ford Operations Manager, and we sat down to talk to Emma about her experiences in the industry and what challenges and obstacles she has had to overcome in her career so far.

Q: How long have you worked at Fordthorne?

A: It will be 11 years this year but I’ve been on the payroll since I was 15 working weekends and school holidays. I’ve done quite a few jobs over the years; Showroom assistant, Reception, Sales admin, Marketing and Finance which has given me a really good understanding of the business.

Q: What daily duties does your role hold?

A: I could go on for pages as there’s so much variety, no two days are the same! Fundamentally I manage people, budgets and processes. I work with and support the management team to ensure they have what they need to manage their department efficiently and effectively while providing great customer service.

Q: Why did you join Fordthorne?

A: I wanted to learn more about and be involved in the family business.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working at Fordthorne?

A: The variety and fast paced nature of my work and the people. I’m lucky to work with great people who have so much experience in this industry. The culture here is special, I feel it very much reflects that this is a family owned and family run business. Being independently owned also means we can be dynamic and adapt quickly which is something that’s more important than ever now.

Q: What would you say/advice to other women looking to break into a historically male dominated industry?

A: Don’t be put off, if you’re interested in any part of the motor trade, go for it! This industry is changing fast, from the types of vehicles being manufactured right through to the way they are marketed and sold creating so much opportunity. Currently both the Managing Director and Commercial Vehicle Director for Ford in the UK are women. I find that really inspiring, it’s an exciting time to be a woman in this industry.

Q: For those women who may be put off by the industry what advice would you give?

A: This industry isn’t for everyone, its fast paced and can be challenging but it’s also motivating and rewarding. There is so much opportunity for different skill sets, technical roles, sales, customer service, accounting, marketing and management to name a few. We need to attract the next generation of both men and women to take advantage of the opportunity and grow their careers. Diversity creates something special, it adds a new dimension. A third of our management team is made up of women and I’m proud to be part of that. To quote Ruth Bader Ginsburg “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made”

Q: Have you encountered pervasive stereotypes and lack of mentoring because you are a female and if so how have you combated these societal behaviours to succeed?

A: I’m very fortunate to work alongside great people, both female and male who have a breadth of knowledge and lots of enthusiasm for this industry. They have supported and encouraged me and taught me a lot over the years. Unfortunately there can be pervasive stereotypes, my response is to politely call out what has been said or done. Quite often there was no real intent behind it and I address it to hopefully provoke more thought in the future. It can be a little intimidating to be one of only a few women at some industry meetings but I’ve usually found there’s an appreciation for a different, female voice at the table.  

Currently both the Managing Director and Commercial Vehicle Director for Ford in the UK are women. I find that really inspiring, it’s an exciting time to be a woman in this industry.

International Women’s Day does not mean there is only one day for women. The support and celebration should be 365 days a year.