By on September 11, 2018

aston martin db4 gt

British luxury car maker Aston Martin is putting a contemporary face on its company ahead of an initial public offering planned for October. On Monday, the company appointed Penny Hughes to the position of chair — a symbolic act in a slow-to-evolve industry historically dominated by men.

Hughes arrives at Aston Martin with an impressive résumé. Formerly head of Coca-Cola’s UK and Ireland operations, the new chair also served on the boards of Royal Bank of Scotland and telecom giant Vodafone. As it prepares to make 25 percent of its shares public, the increasingly high-profile automaker wants an infusion of fresh blood while remaining tied by the firmest of bonds to its storied history.

The company’s heritage speaks for itself, and Aston often allows it to do just that. There hasn’t been this much official DB5 imagery put forth by the automaker since the original graced showrooms.

A long time coming, the IPO is seen as a litmus test for the patriotism of British investors, as well as the the strength of their nerves. Brexit is still a go, after all, though Aston claims its export-heavy operation insulates it from much of the potential fallout. At least a quarter of the automaker’s shares will hit the London Stock Exchange in about a month’s time, with employees and owners invited to buy shares at the initial offer price.

Currently, Kuwaiti and Italian investment firms hold a majority stake in the private company. In order to offer the IPO, Aston first had to return to profitability, which it did last year for the first time since 2010. The brand sold 5,117 cars last year, a significant increase from 2016.

“Private shareholders have displayed successful long-term stewardship to date and are fully committed, as am I, to transitioning the group, the board and its governance arrangements to those expected of a world-class public company operating from the UK,” said Hughes in a statement.

CEO Andy Palmer called Hughes’ appointment “a significant milestone in our history and of the successful turnaround of the company.”

Cynics might claim the high-profile appointment amounts to an equally cynical PR move on the eve of the company’s IPO, given that its executive ranks remain stacked with fair-skinned, well-dressed men. The only female member of Aston’s top brass is Nikki Rimmington, director of corporate finance and planning, who joined the automaker in 2007. Maybe those cynics are right; we aren’t privy to closed-door discussions.

Still, few would question Hughes’ impressive credentials, and to those balk at the idea of gender quotas, surely there’s reason to celebrate the hiring of someone on the basis of merit.

[Image: Aston Martin]

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16 Comments on “Ahead of IPO, Aston Martin Appoints a Female Chair...”


  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    Okay, so Aston is getting a CEO who used to sell soda, savings accounts and telecom.

    This is exactly what’s wrong with the car industry.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Experience selling mass-market sugar water should be directly relevant to selling super premium exclusive British nostalgia vehicles. Is there any evidence she knows or is enthusiastic about cars? When I owned an Austin Healey 3000, I never met a woman that knew what it was, but when told they were nearly certain to say – “oh – isn’t that the car James Bond drives?”

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Aston Martin needs to make money. I don’t care about her interest in cars. Insiders have ruined many companies.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        I won’t disagree, but if she isn’t a car enthusiast where is the press release showing how she doubled Coke’s profits during her tenure? Boards are under tremendous pressure to demonstrate diversity to social justice warriors, and just because she has held some impressive positions doesn’t mean she hasn’t a diversity hire, and is being eased out at Coke because it just wasn’t working out.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “…Aston first had to return to profitability, which it did last year for the first time since 2010”

    Ms Hughes’ appointment is exactly what A-M needs. “Car guys” have driven the company to ruin. In case nobody noticed, the car business is about *money* first, then the product.

    Aston Martin has the product nailed down, but making money at it is the real trick. For example, Tesla’s quality problems will eventually be ironed out when they properly utilize their “car guys”, but becoming profitable will have little to do with the product itself.

    British carmakers have been the butt of jokes for decades because they either fail, consolidate, or are acquired by foreigners. How refreshing if one of them could actually run a tight ship building cool cars.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Personally AM are beautiful cars, they virtually sell themselves. Isn’t there a SUV coming soon from them. Seems like she is showing up at the right time.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Step
    Are you HIGH>?

    “few would question Hughes’ impressive credentials, and to those balk at the idea of gender quotas, surely there’s reason to celebrate the hiring of someone on the basis of merit.”

    What merit>? What transferable skills? Selling Coke in a small geographical area. A product with no serious competition. A product with out ANY SIGNIFICANT change in 50 years. No EPA laws to battle, no styling changes, engineering issues, labor issues, manufacturing issues, country of sale special issues and on and on…..

    I posit her background has ZERO in common with the new job.

    Remember back when the geniuses at GM hired all those guys from P&G
    ????

    • 0 avatar
      WallMeerkat

      I don’t know the lady, but I feel that it wasn’t as easy as it sounds

      > Selling Coke in a small geographical area.

      UK and Ireland is small geographically compared to the US, China etc. but as a gateway to Western Europe still an important market.

      > A product with no serious competition.

      In the 90s in the UK soft drink world, Virgin launched a cola, and Pepsi launched Pepsi Max – a product that Coca Cola didn’t really have an answer to until Coke Zero in the 2000s.

      In Scotland it was, and is, often outsold by Irn Bru.

      > A product with out ANY SIGNIFICANT change in 50 years.

      While the main product hasn’t changed, Coca Cola the company in the UK in the 90s launched Powerade sports drink and Oasis fruit juice.

      > No EPA laws to battle, no styling changes, engineering issues, labor issues, manufacturing issues, country of sale special issues and on and on…..

      Coca Cola under her tenureship merged operations with Schweppes. So there were plenty of engineering, labour, manufacturing etc. issues.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Soda, checking accounts, and phones.

    All hope is lost for manual Aston Martins.

  • avatar
    Vanillasludge

    Ford installed non car types and its going great! Right?

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Perchance she goes by her middle name and her 1st name is Money.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    Next, an automaker brings in a CEO from an office-furniture company!

    Oh wait…!

  • avatar
    NeilM

    And I’d so hoped her name was Pussy Galore.

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