Family motor retailer JCT600, which is committed to driving a change in the gender balance in the automotive industry, is celebrating International Women’s Day on Friday 8 March by talking to five women from five different parts of the business about their views of what it is like being a woman in what has traditionally been a male dominated sector.
The company believes that attracting more women into the motor trade will not only enhance its culture, but will also help to address the skills gap by attracting a new pool of talent. JCT600 has been working hard to address the gender balance with women now working within all the different areas of the business from servicing to sales, and customer experience to HR. Many women already hold management positions within JCT600 and many more are progressing their careers from apprentice and junior positions.
As part of its commitment, JCT600 recently joined 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.
Jessica Suffield, 18, an apprentice technician at Porsche Centre Leeds, explains why she chose a career in the automotive industry. “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.
“I believe that 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.”
Another JCT600 colleague, Laura Thompson, sales executive at Peugeot Bradford said: “I’ve always enjoyed dealing with customers face to face and I was aware that the motor trade offered great benefits. 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.
“My advice to other women interested in working in the motor industry is not to 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.”
Shanika Reid, front of house manager at The Premium Collection for JCT600, commented: “My initial attraction to the motor industry – although a 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!
“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.”
Finally, JCT600 HR director Katie Saunders, explains how she developed a career in the automotive industry: “I worked for the manufacturer initially, five years for Volkswagen Group UK, working specifically with Audi and SEAT brands. However, I think that 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.
“If you are interested in working with cars, in any capacity, 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.”
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Balance for Better’, providing a “unified direction to guide and galvanise continuous action” in driving an equal and balanced working world.