SMMT chief Mike Hawes recognised for services to industry

Mike Hawes, the chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), has been honoured as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his contributions to the automotive industry in the King’s Birthday Honours List.

His role has involved fostering the UK industry’s relationships with governments, stakeholders, and the media worldwide, with a focus on making the UK a prime location for the automotive business.

Throughout more than a decade, Hawes has navigated the industry through significant technological, structural, and geopolitical changes. His efforts have been directed at enhancing the global competitiveness and reputation of the UK automotive sector, building consensus among SMMT’s diverse members on numerous issues, from Brexit trade negotiations to the COVID-19 pandemic, global supply chain shortages, the energy crisis, and the transition to net zero technologies.

His work has safeguarded jobs, promoted new vehicle technology’s environmental benefits, and attracted substantial inward investment.

A key challenge for the industry is attracting new talent. Hawes has been a key supporter of Mission Automotive, which helps ex-service personnel find jobs in the sector. He also signed SMMT to the Armed Forces Covenant which received a Gold Award under the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme, a first for a trade association.

Hawes has also been instrumental in the Automotive Council, a partnership between the government and the automotive industry formed in 2009. As a main board member and chair of the UK competitiveness and business environment working group, he has worked to boost the UK’s attractiveness and was pivotal in launching the UK’s first automotive diversity charter, with all major UK-based automotive manufacturers as signatories.

Reflecting on his OBE recognition, Hawes said: “Receiving such an award for services to the industry I love and have spent so much of my life championing is a huge honour. It is one I share with a dedicated and talented team at SMMT and a UK industry which wants to be the best. The past few years have been anything but smooth, but the UK sector has proven itself resilient, adaptable and, as ever, incredibly innovative. This recognition reinforces the importance of the industry and SMMT itself, and I would like to thank everyone with whom I have worked for their unfailing commitment and support.”

Mick Flanagan, SMMT president and vice-president at Adient, praised Hawes: “Mike has devoted his career to our sector, promoting our interests, defending us when necessary and always seeking to create the conditions that would see the UK industry compete at home and abroad.

“His leadership of SMMT has seen some significant challenges – political, economic and, most importantly, once in a century technological change. He has managed them with calmness, diplomacy and unwavering good humour, and I am sure that everyone at SMMT and in the wider industry would congratulate him on this much-merited recognition.”

Hawes has led SMMT since 2013, following a career in the automotive sector both domestically and internationally. He began his career in road transport research in 1990. Before joining SMMT, he held director roles at Bentley Motors, overseeing global communications, government affairs, and corporate social responsibility. He also held senior positions in government and corporate affairs at Toyota in the UK and Europe.


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