Anne Stevens is in her element on the Aston Martin factory floor at Gaydon. As one of the marque’s newest Independent Non-Executive Directors, she brings with her decades of automotive industry experience. After studying engineering at Drexel University in Philadelphia, she spent 10 years in the chemical industry before joining Ford Motor Company in 1990 — beginning a long association with the American giant.
Starting out on mechanical speedometers and eventually transitioning to electronic instrument panels, Stevens then moved into full vehicle engineering responsibility. By 2001, she was Vice President of Ford’s North American Vehicle Operations, winning awards for her leadership style, and eventually became the first woman Executive Vice President in the company’s history.
Honoured by the Automotive Hall of Fame and a member of America’s National Academy of Engineering, Stevens went on to run Ford plants in Europe, as well as overseeing the development of numerous cars, including the first-generation Ford Puma and the Ka. She worked with the late Richard Parry-Jones, the talented Ford CTO who oversaw Aston Martin’s DB7, DB9 and Vantage, and who served on the Aston Martin board from 2007 to 2014. Post-Ford, Stevens became the first female CEO of specialist steel maker Carpenter Technology.
Stevens is at Gaydon to address Aston Martin employees on International Women’s Day. Her inspirational story and long association with the auto industry make her an important figure in the ongoing drive for better representation, from the factory floor all the way up to
the board room. In the US, recent figures suggest that women account for just over a quarter of auto industry jobs; at senior executive level, this fraction is even smaller. Stevens has long been vocal in her support for women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). She sponsors the Anne L. Stevens Scholarship Program for Young Women at Drexel University, her alma mater, and received a Best 50 Women
in Business Award in 2008.
Stevens describes Aston Martin’s strong emotional identity. “It’s about how owning and being in an Aston Martin makes you feel,” she explains. “Right now, I think we could have more women owners. There are a lot of women who drive and own sports cars. Overall, only 9% of Aston Martin owners are women. Of course, in some territories it’s very different — something like 30% in China, for example.”
Statistics show that Aston Martin owners are getting younger, and Stevens points to the importance of brand awareness at every age. “The younger generation get their information online,” she says. “Before I joined the board, my 16-year-old grandson knew more about Aston Martin vehicles than I did, and his friends were asking me questions about the Valkyrie that I couldn’t answer. He is an Aston Martin advocate and I know that, someday, he will own an Aston Martin.”
When asked about the future of Aston Martin’s ongoing series of high-level partnerships, Stevens highlights that the company has an accomplished luxury brand strategist in Executive Chairman Lawrence Stroll. “I couldn’t begin to conceive of the opportunities that Lawrence has in mind,” she says.
The committee is a crucial part of Aston Martin’s future plans. “We are accelerating our actions to address our impact on the environment,” she says. “I think that Aston Martin can create an ultra-luxury brand niche for sustainability. Today, I’m part of the Board of Directors, and the responsibility of the board is to make sure that we have a long-term strategy for the company. The only way that we’re going to do that is evolve.”
This story is an extract from an article featured in the AMXX issue of Aston Martin magazine, out now. If you're not already a subscriber, visit magazine.astonmartin.com/magazine-subscription so that you can read the full story.