John Barnett gains outstanding contribution award at gala dinner

The North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA) celebrated its third annual industry awards with one of the highlights being the outstanding achievement, sponsored by MAKE It Sunderland, going to John Barnett.

The award recognises an individual at any level who has had a sustained career, has been highly influential in supporting the region’s competitiveness and whose passion for the automotive sector is an inspiration to others.

John, who is head of global manufacturing and operations, at Marelli, is also a member of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership Business Growth board, the NEAA Advisory board, the board of Sunderland College and works closely with Newcastle University.

Over 200 guests and many of the region’s major automotive companies including Nissan Motor Corporation (UK), Unipres UK and Komatsu UK celebrated outstanding individual talent and the spectacular achievements of companies flying the flag for the North East automotive sector.

Chief executive at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), Mike Hawes, delivered the keynote address.

In a further show of strength, both the apprentice and graduate awards delivered an all-female final, highlighting the vital role women are playing in the automotive industry as well as providing a platform to inspire others.

Paul Butler, chief executive of the North East Automotive Alliance, said: “I would like to congratulate John Barnett on winning the outstanding achievement award. John has had a hugely successful career in the automotive sector spanning over 30 years, rising to a global role. His passion for the sector is clear, having supported many external activities and academic institutions to address skills, continuous improvements and regional competitiveness. John adds significant sector representation and works to ensure the needs of the automotive sector are addressed.”

John, said: “I’m really honoured to be recognised. I’m just a lad from Durham who has enjoyed a 30-year career in the automotive sector amongst some other really great people who have also dedicated a significant amount of time to the industry and the North East region.”

There were a range of awards presented at the event. The school engagement award sponsored by Invest South Tyneside, Geoff Ford MBE apprentice awards, sponsored by Gateshead College, graduate awards, sponsored by NA College, manufacturing excellence award sponsored by Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK), innovation awards, sponsored by Newcastle University and SME company of the year sponsored by Marelli.

£14,500 was awarded to STEM engagement programmes and local schools to assist STEM projects Now in its third year, £47,500 has been raised to date. In addition, the evening also raised over £1,000 for the automotive charity Ben, who provide support for life to its people and their families.

Paul Butler, said: “The awards evening enables the sector to come together and celebrate our great success stories. I would like to acknowledge all of our sponsors whose generosity allows our winners to donate their award money to support future talent and STEM projects.”

Steve Marsh, vice president manufacturing Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK and NEAA chairman, said: “As chair of the NEAA cluster I am proud of our achievements to date. However, we must continue to add value to our members and ensure we have a voice in shaping the future direction and support provided by the UK Government and its agencies. To this end, it’s great that Mike Hawes, chief executive of SMMT was our guest speaker. We look forward to the NEAA and SMMT continuing to build upon our collaborative work in support of our region and our member companies.

“Congratulations to all finalists and winners on the night. It was pleasing to see and note that all the finalists in the apprentice and graduate categories are female which, as an industry, highlights that we are continuing to bridge the gender skills gap, which is a tremendous achievement.”