How eStar Truck & Van’s Caroline Burnell champions the van community


Seller group eStar Truck & Van‘s head of selling and communications Caroline Burnell has improved van neighborhood tradition from her ardour for bettering wellbeing and innovation in communication.

Minutes after the being crowned the fourth winner of the highly sought-after Barbara Cox Woman of the Year Award, Burnell informed AM-On-line simply how a lot profitable the award meant to her.

“It feels very surreal, my complete profession has been about enabling others to be within the highlight and giving different folks a platform and ensuring that I promote the model or leaders within the enterprise,” she mentioned.

“I’ve all the time described myself as a ‘wing lady’ and to now be the person who’s within the highlight and for issues that I do outdoors of my job – means a lot to me.”

In her nomination, Burnell was described as a “linchpin” for the automotive neighborhood all through her 17 years in PR and communications – which she kickstarted with a PR company, engaged on the accounts of Auto Dealer and Ford, earlier than later becoming a member of Mercedes-Benz UK.

Burnell stood out to the judging panel for demonstrating consistency in her dedication to the automotive business over a time period and for leaving a transparent legacy behind at every development of her profession, exhibiting that her work is very regarded.

In addition they mentioned that working in a sector which can be deemed ‘much less glamorous’, she has managed to know the motive force neighborhood and use her data to enhance tradition and widen and educate exterior viewpoints.

The judging panel included earlier winners Alison Jones, UK group managing director and senior vice-president at Stellantis, and Lorna McAtear, fleet supervisor at Nationwide Grid. They have been joined on the panel by Lynda Ennis (Ennis & Co), Lindsay Greatbatch (Bauer Media) in addition to Liam Quegan and Alison Fisher from Cox Automotive Europe.

Enterprise Barometer

One among Burnell’s proudest achievements is commissioning Mercedes-Benz Vans (UK) Enterprise Barometer – a quarterly examine of two,000 LCV homeowners and operators – highlighting as many facets of the van neighborhood as potential.

In 2018, Burnell satisfied the board of administrators to focus on psychological well being as a subject outdoors of the organisation.

Burnell mentioned: “It was probably not being mentioned then as broadly as it’s now, however it occurred to me that industrial automobile homeowners and operators have been amongst the toughest working folks, but vastly unsung and sometimes extremely remoted, whereas below super pressures and battling many issues out of their management, like site visitors, highway restrictions, know-how failures and gas shortages.”

The ensuing information was used to bundle up a broadcast providing that included an interview with the Psychological Well being Basis to focus on the plight of the van neighborhood within the UK, with protection on nationwide and regional TV, radio, on-line and print media.

Mercedes-Benz Vans UK used the information on its web site, when talking with prospects and prospects, and internally, Burnell mentioned. 

Subjects highlighted by the Barometer embody hydration and weight-reduction plan considerations of drivers, the impression of roadworks and site visitors on psychological well being, males’s well being, going to the medical doctors, Christmas pressures and the impression of COVID-19.

Burnell left the function at Mercedes-Benz in April 2021, however MB Vans have continued utilizing the Enterprise Barometer with the most recent one distributed in January 2022.

“I began the Barometer to present van drivers within the UK a voice and a platform and I used to be amazed on the response that we received from it; it simply grew from there,” mentioned Burnell.

“Though I do not work at Mercedes-Benz anymore, they’re persevering with the Barometer and it is nonetheless received a historical past to it, and it continues to champion a sector of individuals. It isn’t the glamorous aspect of the enterprise, however what a significant aspect of the enterprise it’s. In my profession, that’s one thing that I have been vastly proud to do.”

Ardour for innovation in communcations

“I’m all the time looking for new instruments to raised talk, notably internally in my function as head of selling and communications at eStar,” mentioned Burnell.

A Mercedes-Benz franchisee, the eStar Truck and Van vendor group has a staff of 340 people who find themselves geographically unfold throughout 4 areas (Knowsley, Manchester, Stoke and Deeside).

To enhance inner communications at eStar, Burnell launched a weekly e mail that highlighted key matters, vital notices and workers updates and created the corporate’s first all-team reside stream replace, which noticed the managing director and head of HR ship clear messages across the firm’s strategic path, successes so far.

Burnell additionally launched eStar’s inaugural SuperStar awards, which recognises colleagues who go above and past in opposition to its core values – the professionally-curated reside stream was directed by Burnell.

She mentioned: “The suggestions was phenomenal, with an enormous appreciation for the transparency, down-to-earth strategy, and recognition for colleagues being explicit highlights.

“I hate the time period ‘data is energy’, it’s openness, transparency, authenticity, that must be shared. I am lucky that I work for a superb chief in Steve Bridge, and he shares those self same philosophies.

“The enterprise is barely 18 months outdated, so to return in and embed a tradition of openness, honesty, transparency and championing the folks inside that’s vital. We have got nice prospects, however internally, we should ensure that the persons are simply as championed as our prospects.”

Burnell has additionally established a plan and backing for an inner podcast collection – the primary of which was set to be recorded in February 2022, designed to offer perception into administrators and senior management staff, strategic path, and key matters similar to electrification and digitalisation.

Giving again to the broader neighborhood

Burnell’s emotional intelligence can be true in her non-public life, utilising her abilities as a Psychological Well being First Aider and making use of them in her neighborhood – giving again within the evenings, in her personal time as a volunteer counsellor for Shout, a text-based disaster assist charity.

Burnell mentioned she plans to make use of the £5,000 prize cash to develop her abilities additional and practice to grow to be a counsellor.

She mentioned: “I’m on the stage now that I need to do extra, I’ve executed my little steppingstones. If you happen to’re being pulled in direction of one thing, go at it with open arms, and for me that that is counselling.

“I might like to go to nighttime college and begin to practice as a counsellor and be capable of use the talents that I’ve received into the business that I like and be capable of genuinely assist folks – that is an enormous ardour of mine. The prize cash will allow that dream to occur a bit sooner.”

Judges’ feedback

Burnell stood out to guage Alison Fisher, HR director at Cox Automotive Worldwide, for the legacy that she had left at organisations throughout her profession. Alison Fisher, chief people officer at Cox Automotive

She mentioned: “Mercedes-Benz Vans UK are nonetheless utilizing the Enterprise Barometer so for me, it was that longevity of constantly delivering one thing.

“In an space or a part of our sector that is not the most glamorous at instances as a result of it is truck and vans – however that nearly that arduous to achieve neighborhood and being their voice and advocate. Caroline was ready to take that on – nobody requested her to do this.

“It was the impression she had past her day job, which was so profound, however the legacy of why she did that and the truth that she gave a lot again when it comes to being a psychological well being first aider, however why that is vital to that neighborhood as effectively. It was only a actually well-rounded story that touched lots of us actually.”

Lorna McAtear, fleet supervisor at Nationwide Grid, mentioned: “The van and truck business is such a tough sector.

“Having come from that business myself, I might see and perceive every little thing that Caroline had in her nomination of what she was making an attempt to do, how rather more duty you should really feel you’ve gotten for the drivers as a result of they’re skilled folks.

“All that got here out in Caroline’s entry – her ardour within the business for such a tough sector to ship to and one that’s the spine of the business.

“We noticed that extra so throughout COVID and all the opposite challenges that we have had, that that is an important fleet.” 



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