Carla Henson and Jess Portman of Toyota (GB) PLC have been recognised among the most accomplished and talented women working in Britain’s motor industry.

They feature in the 100 Rising Stars in Autocar’s Great British Women in the Car Industry 2019, a celebration of women’s contribution to the nation’s automotive sector. Both were included in the award’s People Development category, as well as figuring in the top 100 overall.

Henson was talent-spotted while working as secretary to Toyota’s HR director, leading to her promotion to Project Specialist in the department in 2012. Two further promotions have taken her to her current role as Senior Manager, HR Business Partnering and Employee Experience, which she took up in 2018 following completion of an Institute of Leadership and Management level five coaching and mentoring course. Her achievements include leading the review of Toyota’s staff benefits programme and introducing a new flexible benefits portal.

Portman joined the company’s Sales and Marketing operations in 2017 and now heads up the student and graduate programmes as HR Specialist, Emerging Talent. She oversees the annual intake of student interns and graduate recruits, ensuring they are placed in the right department for their skills and determining the criteria for measuring their success. She has also been working with external agencies on how Toyota can make itself more attractive as an employer to female emerging talent.

Rachel Shepherd, General Manager, HR and Facilities, said: “It is wonderful to see Carla and Jess being recognised as shining examples of the excellent female talent we have in our motor industry. They make a great contribution to our business and they are great role models for other young women looking to build exciting and fulfilling careers, both in automotive and in other sectors.”

There was further success for Toyota’s Emma Johnson, ConsumerOne Customer Connection and Experience Innovation Manager, and Robyn Clarke, who were included in the categories for New Mobility and Digital Solutions and Apprentices respectively.

Autocar’s Great British Women in the Car Industry highlights the achievements of women across the full business spectrum, including marketing, sales, people development and manufacturing. The 100 rising stars were announced at an event hosted in London today, with Emma King, Senior Purchasing Manager at Ford, named the overall winner.

Rachael Prasher, Managing Director of Autocar and Haymarket Automotive and chair of the judging panel, said: “It is always exciting for us to recognise the leading women in our industry, but this year’s event feels particularly special. Not only are we looking at the strength of the UK’s automotive industry at the moment, but we are celebrating the names to look out for, carrying the industry into the future.”

Autocar’s Great British Woman in the Car Industry is held in partnership with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), with Toyota as one of its headline sponsors.


Toyota Press Team

For further information, please contact one of the following:
James Clark on 01737 367919 or by e-mail at
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Erica Haddon on 01737 367308 or by e-mail at
General media enquiries
David Rogers on 01737 367224 or by email at
General, alternative fuels and mobility media enquiries
David Crouch on 01737367505 or by email at
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