Aston Martin appoints first-ever female president

Aston Martin has its first female president in the British luxury car maker’s 105-year history.

Laura Schwab, head of Aston Martin the Americas, says her promotion signals a “pivotal moment in time for women” – not just in the auto industry, but all around the world, ABC News reports.

This makes her one of only two women who hold senior leadership positions in the US’ male-dominated industry.

While Aston Martin has 2,500 employees distributed around the globe, only a small percentage of those are women. However, Schwab – who regularly participates in female empowerment conferences – insists she is on a mission to change the existing demographic.

“I am desperate for more women to apply for jobs in automotive,” she tells ABC News. “For some women it’s scary…they might not think they know that much about cars or that much about technology. I am a very firm advocate of more women applying for these roles.”

After 15 years at Jaguar Land Rover, Schwab was poached by Aston Martin in October 2015 to helm its Americas operations. Then, five weeks after accepting the president position she found out she was pregnant. While she admits she was nervous to tell Andy Palmer, the company’s CEO who hired her, she praises the workplace as being “super supportive” throughout the entire pregnancy.

Now, with a one-year-old daughter, she concedes that she still gets “how do you do it” a lot – and her response is always the same: “When was the last time you asked a man that question?”

She adds she is willing to spend weekends and nights away from her toddler daughter in order to convince young women that a career in the auto-industry could be gratifying and highly rewarding.

“It’s a very pivotal moment in time for women, not just in the automotive space, but in the world,” she said. “A lot of barriers, or perceived barriers, have started to be removed. I think in automotive, specifically, we’ve still got a job to do. I never thought of myself as a role model but now that I am in this role, women are looking to me and saying, ‘I can do it.’ And if I can play a small part in encouraging women that automotive is a wonderful place to work and an inspiring and exciting place, then I’ll take on that role for sure.”