JCT600 Continues to Drive Gender Balance in the Motor Industry

To mark International Women’s Day this year, renowned motor retailer JCT600 have asked five women from five different parts of the business for their insight into what being a woman in the motor trade is like.

This comes just weeks after JCT600 reaffirmed its commitment to driving a change in the gender balance in the motor industry by joining the UK Automotive 30% Club.

The Club’s ’30 by 30’ strategy aims to achieve a goal of having 30% of key leadership positions occupied by women by 2030.

JCT600 have been working hard to address the gender balance within the company, with many women in management positions, as well as many more progressing their careers from apprentice and junior positions.

Each of the ladies interviewed for IWD 2019 represents a different area of JCT600, from servicing to sales, and customer experience to HR. We asked each of them three questions about how they came to be working in the motor trade, and what and who inspires them every day.

Read on for the full interviews with five women from across JCT600!

Jessica Suffield, Apprentice Technician at Porsche Centre Leeds

What attracted to you the motor industry in the first place?

Since I was young, I have always been into anything which gets my adrenaline running like fast paced sports or a 15,000ft skydive. After a friend took me to watch the British Truck Racing, I developed an interest in motorsport and an interest in how the trucks worked, which then led me to look at doing a vehicle technician apprenticeship after I left school.

What single piece of advice would you give to other women looking to enter our industry?

If I can do it, anyone can do it! If you really have the interest and passion to learn and succeed, there’s no reason not to try it.

Who is your female inspiration? What is about them that inspires you?

My female inspiration is Emma Watson because she is really passionate about equal rights, and making sure young girls grow up knowing they can go into any career they want.

Laura Thompson, Sales Executive at Peugeot Bradford

What attracted to you the motor industry in the first place?

I started my sales career in the mobile phone sector and enjoyed dealing with customers face to face. A friend of mine suggested the motor trade. He was always coming home with a new car every few weeks and enjoyed an extravagant lifestyle so I knew the benefits must be good! From the minute I started I knew I'd chosen the right path. I enjoy coming to work every day and even eight years down the line I still get the same buzz as I did at the start each time I sell a car.

What single piece of advice would you give to other women looking to enter our industry?

Don't be intimidated! Although the industry is still perceived as male dominated it is fast becoming gender equal. In my experience customers have had zero reservations about buying a car from a female and many regularly comment that it’s nice to deal with a woman.

Who is your female inspiration? What is about them that inspires you?

Lady Gaga. She has overcome adversity throughout her school years and has proven wrong all who doubted her by winning awards from Grammys to Oscars. She is able to adapt from one situation to the next and never scared to be who she wants to be.

Donna Stoakes, Service Manager at Mercedes-Benz Doncaster

What attracted to you the motor industry in the first place?

I started off in a marketing office some 20 years ago and helped out one day on a sales event. Seeing how the sales team all worked together and how happy they could make a customer attracted me to the sales role. The fast moving pace of the industry was one of the first things to get me hooked. Service is where I found my passion for cars. Finding out what I was passionate about was the foundation of the career I have built since I first engaged with the motor industry. And the rest is history!

What single piece of advice would you give to other women looking to enter our industry?

When I first started out I had to be in the driving seat of my own career aspirations as a women ready to take up the challenges and risks to move up the ladder. Things have changed so much over the years and I now see females in every area of our business right up to brand director. My advice is that there is only a road block if you allow there to be a road block. Stay true to yourself and never compromise on what a successful career looks like to you.

Who is your female inspiration? What is about them that inspires you?

My female inspiration is my Mother, cliché I know! I was brought up believing I can be who or whatever I want to be. I have brought up my daughter exactly the same way and she has become a very successful BDM in the training sector, again quite a male dominated environment.

Shanika Reid, Front of House Manager at The Premium Collection

What attracted to you the motor industry in the first place?

My initial attraction to the motor industry – although cliché – was my passion for cars. I brought my car in for service, and witnessed what seemed to be a dynamic and thriving team who looked after me in a fast paced environment. I wanted to be part of this, and the rest, as they say, is history!

What single piece of advice would you give to other women looking to enter our industry?

The single piece of advice I would give to other women looking to enter the industry would be to go for it! No two days are the same, the environment is fast paced and the job satisfaction is tremendous. I have been in the industry for nearly seven years and I have never looked back. I really couldn’t recommend it enough.

Who is your female inspiration? What is about them that inspires you?

Michelle Obama. I feel she is inspiring for many reasons! She is powerful yet nurturing, selfless and compassionate, articulate and authentic, and a strong, natural leader. She is the epitome of what a woman should be in my opinion.

Katie Saunders, HR Director at JCT600

What attracted to you the motor industry in the first place?

I had previously worked in retail (WHSmith, ASDA and BHS) and thought that it would be something completely different and it was!  I worked for the manufacturer initially, five years for Volkswagen Group UK, working specifically with Audi and SEAT brands. It taught me about the pull and power of brand. It also was rather a shock to the system as, at that point the industry was not particularly forward thinking with regards to Equality, and Learning and Development. The retail side of the industry, where I have spent the last 11 years, is where the real action is - more dynamic and truly rewarding.

What single piece of advice would you give to other women looking to enter our industry?

Do it! You will not find a more exciting, fast paced, interesting industry, particularly now, when we are experiencing huge change. The energy just now is palpable and opportunities in this industry are wide ranging and more flexible than ever.

Who is your female inspiration? What is about them that inspires you?

Dame Judy Dench. She is sharp witted and incredibly funny, she has amazing talent, she is fiercely intelligent but is very humble and has navigated celebrity over the years with utter dignity and grace. She is working hard still, at 84 even with failing eyesight and, for me, she is a true inspiration.

Added: 07 March 2019

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