Xtrac, the world’s leading design, engineering and manufacturing specialist of motorsport and high-performance automotive transmission systems, has appointed Kirsty Knight as head of human resources. The empowering role supports Xtrac’s ongoing business expansion, state-of-the-art test facilities and increased factory capacity to meet growing global demand.
“It’s a crucial appointment for Xtrac, which prioritises the development of our employees as the best way to serve a wide customer base covering the high-performance automotive sector and top-level race teams globally,” says chief executive Adrian Moore.
“Kirsty is from the next generation of business leaders and has the corporate transformation experience and change management skills necessary for our company’s growth. It includes recruiting, developing and retaining motivated and engaging people from all backgrounds and experiences for the key engineering and high-value manufacturing roles, ensuring our customers have the best-engineered products manufactured to the highest quality and delivered on time.”
“Kirsty steps into the role following Jane Gilham’s recent retirement. Jane served the company brilliantly for 25 years, supporting our award-winning apprenticeship and undergraduate training schemes, which are a significant industry benchmark for high-quality apprenticeships.”
Knight’s appointment follows the opening in March this year of a dedicated apprenticeship facility, the Xtrac Academy, at the company’s global headquarters in Berkshire, underscoring its progressive approach to business and the facilities needed for its continued success.
It was also in time to witness The Princess Royal’s visit on 11 May to meet recipients of HRH’s eponymous Princess Royal Training Award, assessed by the City & Guilds Group she serves as president. It’s an award the company has twice received, including in 2018.
“I join the company at an eventful time and look forward to playing a pivotal leadership role in further developing and building Xtrac,” says Knight. “I relish the challenge and look forward to applying my experience and knowledge to meet the changing cultural needs of a fast-growing company.”
“The automotive and motorsport industry is undergoing a dramatic once-in-a-generation technological transformation with the emergence of hybrid and electric vehicles as it moves rapidly towards net-zero mobility and future road transport decarbonisation,” says Moore.
“Xtrac already plays a major role and engaging its current and future multi-skilled workforce with the task ahead is fundamental to our success.”
Knight has considerable experience, which is perfectly suited to the needs of Xtrac. Her previous role was at the Nationwide Building Society as head of people services transformation. She served six years and delivered innovative employee transformation programmes, including how the society implemented people change initiatives. Knight also helped redirect its approach to resolving workplace disputes. Before this role, she was the senior business partner for the society’s retail branch network and regulated advice arms, supporting the HR needs of over 8,000 employees.
She has also coached, challenged and advised executive leaders on HR topics such as employee relations, recruitment initiatives, reward, talent, performance management, change culture, employee engagement and leadership.
Before that, Knight was an HR business partner serving the Zurich Insurance Company, where she was similarly responsible for driving cultural change resulting in improved employee engagement. She also developed a new management graduate scheme, internship programme and apprentice proposition while designing retention schemes for key personnel.
Knight began her career as a secondary school science teacher, having graduated from the University of Warwick with a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) specialising in secondary school science. She achieved her BSc (Hons) in biomedical chemistry at Sheffield Hallam University. Her teaching experience will serve her well; Xtrac works closely with local schools to encourage youngsters from age 12 onwards to consider an engineering career.