DRIVING FORWARD: WOMEN IN TRANSPORT
Being a technician isn’t just a job for the boys.
From selling trucks, to repairing them, in this month’s episode of ‘The Women of Hino’ we speak to Rachael Heufel who has been working in the industry for the past 4 years and is the very first female technician for Southern Truck Centre.
We find out what peaked her interested in the transport industry, and what her journey from apprentice to fully trained technician has been like, along with finding out who her influences are within the industry.
What drew you to a career in the Transport Industry?
I got into the industry through school. A careers teacher asked if I would like to do a Cert II program in Heavy Diesel and I took that opportunity. I've also had an interest since I was young, I was always helping my dad out with cars and 4WDs at home.
I also wanted to get a trade under my belt while I'm young, so I can potentially move into management roles within a dealership, or even start my own business one day.
Of all the areas within transport, why did you choose to become a mechanic? Is anyone in your family a mechanic?
I like to keep busy while working, and as a mechanic you’re never idle, everything is a puzzle and there’s always a challenge. There’s a huge variety in what can be done on a daily basis, and there’s always something new to learn. While none of my family members are mechanics, helping my dad fix cars was probably a dead giveaway of what my future would be.
What have been some of the challenges during your apprenticeship?
The biggest challenge that I have found when first coming into the industry was that a lot of people would not trust me because I'm female.
There was a while there where I had to work a lot harder than my other male apprentice colleges just to be able to prove myself, and show that, yes, this is the career I want and belong in. I am passionate about my work, and love what I do.
What have been some of the highlights throughout your training?
The biggest highlight has been spending a lot of time shadowing our senior tech. He’s taken me under his wing and taught me so much about the industry, and how to diagnose and fault trace the problems correctly…of course. Without him, I don’t think I’d have anywhere near the amount of knowledge I do now.
What are some of your daily duties as a mechanic?
I wouldn't say I have daily duties, as every day is different. But I do spend a lot of time helping and teaching the younger apprentices where needed.
Why is it so important to get your truck serviced by an authorised Hino dealer?
Getting your trucked serviced by an authorised dealer is much faster than taking it elsewhere. As a Hino dealer we have access to the parts already, and Techs are specifically trained for the brand and the many specialised tools we use to carry out repairs. Also, we have access to the Hino support team when we need information, or a little guidance when carrying out diagnostics.
What are some things you’ve discovered about the industry that have surprised you?
The biggest thing that has surprised me is just how important our job is for the country. It really is true that ‘without trucks Australia stops’.
The government is wanting to attract more women to the transport industry. From your experience, what could they do to make the industry more enticing?
A great idea would be to bring some mechanics into schools to give a small talk about what we do, the number of opportunities it can bring and how important this job really is.
If you were asked to give a presentation at a school, is there anything specific you would talk about?
The biggest thing that I have found is a lot of young people don’t know where to start. It can be quite overwhelming moving from school life into full time work. I would tell them that sometimes in life you just need to go for it. You never know unless you give something a go and that’s all employers are looking for. Someone who is keen to jump in and get their hands dirty.
Are there any women in the transport industry (Australia or Internationally) you look up to or find inspirational? If so, who and why?
There are a few people that I have found inspirational, but one in particular: Louise Azzopardi. She has done her time in the trade and is now a tradeswomen empowerment coach. A Lot of things she talks about are very relatable to what I have also gone through within the industry.
You sound like a fan of Lousie Azzopardi. Do you have plans to meet her?
I had the pleasure of meeting Louise at a Women in Transport dinner earlier this year. It was great talking to another female in the industry as we connected on so many things we’ve have come across while working in the trade.
What advice would you give other women considering a career in the transport industry?
The best advice is to just go for it and try. You’ll never know you don't like something until you try it. There are plenty of workshops around the country that would be more than happy to give women an opportunity. Even if it's just doing some work experience. It's a good start to get your foot in the door.
Lastly, what does the future hold for you?
Now that I have finished my apprenticeship for heavy diesel, I'm looking to do my auto electrical apprenticeship. The reason for this is, there is a lot of electronics in the trucks these days, and if I want to further my career, I need to learn what they do and how to fix them. I feel this is my next step towards being an even better technician.
Rachael has her sights set firmly on the future and improving her skills even more. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for her, and we’re glad we can be a part of it.
If you’re an Australian-based heavy vehicle mechanic who’s interested in becoming a Hino technician, contact your local Hino Dealer, or call us direct on 1300 01 HINO