Caroline Burnell, Head of Marketing & Communications at eStar, the Mercedes-Benz Truck and Van franchise partner in the North West and North Wales, has been crowned the Barbara Cox Woman of the Year at an event held to celebrate International Women’s Day.

The prestigious award, now in it’s fourth year, forms part of the ‘Women with Drive’ network, established by Cox Automotive Europe, and is named after a business pioneer who served as a Director of Cox Enterprises – Cox Automotive’s parent company.

The Woman of the Year award recognises someone who shares the traits of its namesake, and embraces innovation and advances the industry, inspires others through a commitment to great leadership, and who gives back to her community.


Caroline, who lives in Conwy, North Wales, was nominated by Steve Bridge, Managing Director of eStar, to recognise her achievements in championing the hardworking truck and van communities, including highlighting their mental health concerns, and providing them with a platform to share their views on the topics and issues that impact their lives and businesses, as well as her work both inside and outside of the organisation in highlighting and supporting the wellbeing of others.

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He said: “This is a fantastic and well-deserved accolade for Caroline, who works tirelessly to support others. Her genuine passion for the commercial vehicle industry, coupled with her unwavering commitment to helping people who are struggling, makes her a very deserving recipient of this award. We’re proud to work with her at eStar; she is a big inspiration both in and out of work.”

Liam Quegan, Board Sponsor for ‘Women with Drive’ for Cox Automotive Europe, added:

“Caroline was a very impressive nominee, and the judging panel was unanimous in its decision. It is evident that Caroline hasn’t been afraid to challenge the status quo whilst working in the automotive industry. She conveys real passion and shows leadership that is ‘breaking the mould’. She has also launched some excellent, and innovative, communications to showcase that the company cares, and truly listens. At each stage of her career, she has left a clear legacy behind, showing that her work is highly regarded. She is indeed a very worthy winner of this year’s Barbara Cox Women of the Year Award.”

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The award, run in association with Fleet News, AM and Smart Transport, is open to women in leadership roles within the European automotive sector, was judged by a panel made up for past winners, Alison Jones, UK group managing director and senior vice president at Stellantis, and Lorna McAtear, fleet manager at National Grid, as well as Liam Quegan and Alison Fisher from Cox Automotive Europe, Lynda Ennis of automotive and mobility executive search firm Ennis & Co and Lindsay Greatbatch, head of B2B memberships at Bauer Media.

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Reflecting on her award win, Caroline said: “I’ve spent my life and career behind the scenes and championing others, so to now be front and centre is a very new feeling for me, but one which is an absolute honour and feels amazing. Women are so often overwhelmed with messages that we aren’t good enough – we aren’t slim enough or pretty enough or clever enough or popular enough – and spend huge parts of our lives trying our hardest to change, and bend, and flex to fit this. However, true contentment in life, I’ve come to understand, is when you realise you are enough. You are worthy. You are good enough. I wish my seven-year-old self could see me now.”

Caroline has been in the automotive industry for 17 years, across agency, manufacturer, and now Dealer level, including a 10-year stint at Mercedes-Benz UK head office. Outside of work, she is a trained Mental Health First Aider and a volunteer for Shout 85258, a text messaging support service for people in crisis.