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Women and wheels

What’s it like to be a woman in the male-dominated aftermarket workshop industry? We hear from five our the most dynamic females in the field.

People often have a mixed reaction when they speak to a woman in the aftermarket industry – frequently, they’re surprised that a woman would have any interest in, let alone knowledge of, cars. We applaud our female members for breaking the stereotype. Read on to find out their view on the industry.

A rose amongst the thorns, Sebola Mahura enjoys every minute of her job handling admin and marketing at KGK Motors. Her favourite part is interacting with clients.

Sebola Mahura handles admin and marketing at KGK Motors and loves every minute of it. Her favourite part of the job is interacting with the clients although, she admits, many question her knowledge because she is female. Not that this deters her – to the contrary, she works hard to increase and demonstrate her understanding. It would be great to see more women doing the same, she maintains, especially since the industry offers opportunities in several different areas, from panelbeating to technicians.

Chantel Steyn and her team from Car Service City branch showing off their Best New Branch and Best Overall Branch awards in the franchise last year.

Chantel Steyn admits that the automobile industry isn’t about glitz and glamour – but that’s what she likes about it because she’s thrilled to be able to set a positive role model for strong, determined women. In fact, she’d like to set an example for everyone in the industry, demonstrating the importance of commitment to customer service and quality workmanship. Her own dedication shows in the success of her Car Service City branch, which was awarded Best New Branch and Best Overall Branch in the franchise last year.

The ‘Power Girls’ outside the Loop Street branch of Kessel Motors are Daniella Bruintjies, manager and service advisor; Erica Martheze, admin manager and parts buyer; Crystal Davies, admin clerk; and Bongeka Jonga, floor assistant.

The success of Kessel Motors, which has six branches, proves the theory of co-owner Sandra Corbett: that the business acumen shared between her and her husband could be put to good use in any industry. Sandra admits that building the business hasn’t always been easy, especially when it comes to customers who doubt her efficacy around mechanical problems. This has spurred her to work harder, she says, because she is determined to prove that she can do the job just as well as anyone. While Sandra believes there is certainly room for more women in the industry, education and mentoring have a critical role to play in highlighting the opportunities available to them.

Angie Ledwaba, owner of RA Motors in Polokwane, would love to see more women showing an interest in mechanical engineering.

Angie Ledwaba shares this view, which is why she is eager to see more educational workshops informing women of what the industry has to offer them. Her own entry into the field came after she managed her brother’s workshop. The experience encouraged her to purchase her own, and she is now the owner of RA Motors in Polokwane. Angie believes that engineering, and mechanical engineering in particular, is an excellent avenue for opening the industry to more women, and would like to see more women showing an interest in these fields.

Theresa Spencer Higgs, MIWA Border Regional Chairperson, is well placed to provide guidance and is excited to help the industry evolve.

For Theresa Spenser-Higgs, a career in the industry was almost a foregone conclusion: her father and grandfather both worked in the field, as did her husband. She came on board to help him with office work when he opened D&T Servicing and is now the MIWA Border Regional Chairperson. She relishes the responsibilities and opportunities that come with this position; because she has an insider’s view of the challenges experienced by workshops, she is well placed to provide guidance and is excited to help the industry evolve.