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

Hawes joined the SMMT as chief executive in 2013, after a number of years in the automotive sector, both in the UK and overseas. 

He joined from Bentley Motors, where he held director positions with responsibility for global communications, government affairs and corporate social responsibility. Prior to that, he held senior government and corporate affairs positions at Toyota, both in the UK and Europe.

His brief is to lead the UK industry’s engagement with governments, stakeholders and the media internationally and ensure the country is one of the best places in the world for the automotive industry to do business. 

Announcing his award, SMMT said: ”Over more than a decade, Mike has led the industry through a period of technological, structural and geopolitical change, working tirelessly to ensure the UK sector’s global competitiveness and reputation are enhanced.

”Many of the issues that have beset the sector during his tenure have required consensus building among the SMMT’s diverse membership, something he has done with tact and respect.

”From the Brexit trade negotiations, in which he was relentless in advocating a deal for automotive, to Covid and the subsequent global supply chain shortages, the energy crisis and the unprecedented technological transformation to net zero, he has sought to safeguard jobs and businesses, promote the environmental benefits of new vehicle technology and help secure millions of pounds of inward investment.” 

The SMMT also praised Hawes for his role in the creation of Mission Automotive, which places ex-service personnel in jobs across the sector. He also signed it up to the Armed Forces Covenant and saw the organisation receive a Gold Award under the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme – the first trade association to be recognised in this way.

Hawes also plays a pivotal role in the Automotive Council – a partnership formed in 2009 to foster collaboration between government and the automotive industry.

SMMT said that as a main board member and chair of the UK competitiveness and business environment working group, Hawes has been influential in delivering the UK’s first Automotive Diversity Charter, which counts every major UK-based automotive manufacturer as a signatory. 

Commenting on his award, 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 of Adient, added: “It is fantastic to see Mike’s enormous contribution to the British automotive industry recognised in His Majesty’s Birthday Honours List. 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.”