Five women in the automotive industry, all accredited members of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), a proud Association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), talk to us about what they love and don’t love about the industry, and how they see the industry evolving.– ARTICLE COURTESY OF RETAIL MOTORING INDUSTRY ORGANIZATION (RMI)
“I landed in the industry when my husband opened a workshop and needed someone to do the office work,” she explains. “I guess I was really brought up in it though, as my father and grandfather were also in the industry. All my life I had to hold my own in conversation when the men were talking cars, so I always listened and asked questions.”
Most men think women know nothing about cars, but the industry is changing and women are more accepted today.– Teresa Spenser-Higgs
“When people ask what I do I say it’s a bit like being a mom – I need to be able to do everything (other than fix my car myself). My friends of course think I lunch and have my nails done all day because I’m the boss’s wife, but that’s far from the truth. Instead it’s a combination of HR, industrial relations, debtors, creditors, spares, reception, first aid, marketing and social media, to name a few.”
Teresa loves the honesty of earning a living with your hands. “The muscles in our industry are as a result of hard work; they’re not crafted in a gym,” she says.
She has overcome discrimination with a sense of humour (and silently counting to 10).
“Most men think women know nothing about cars, but the industry is changing and women are more accepted today. They bring a different dynamic to the table. Men may head the industry in a lot of respects but women are the backbone; the infrastructure that allows the head to function properly.”
The future of the industry is exciting, Teresa says, and she is encouraged to see young women choosing related fields of study at colleges.
“There are many opportunities for women – just believe in yourself and don’t let someone else determine your value. It’s important to get your hands dirty while learning everything you can,” is her advice.
“Since I understand the challenges the average workshop faces, I want to be part of the solution and help the industry evolve.”