Chasing dreams one lockdown at a time

From pulling apart lawnmowers as a child to now becoming an automotive technician, Marama Thompson’s dreams have come true. She always had an interest in mechanics and how machines operated. However, it wasn’t until Covid-19 and the lockdowns in 2020 that she really had her chance to get into the automotive industry.

Marama has worked various jobs over her career, working in a bakery, factories and most recently in retail. When Covid-19 hit, Marama thought this would be a great time to chase her automotive dream. “I’ve always been interested in the automotive industry, and it’s always been one of my dreams to be a mechanic. I never fulfilled it until later when Covid-19 hit, and everything was taking a downturn. My job at the time was in retail and had slowed down so I decided to chase my dream and become a mechanic.”

Her journey into the automotive industry started when she applied for the Auto Super Shoppe Academy in Auckland. “Through this course we had days where we would work in a workshop. We visited multiple workshops and from there I was able to gain some connections and get noticed by employers.”

Marama secured employment at Auto Super Shoppes Eurotech in Hamilton and is now completing MITO’s New Zealand Certificate in Automotive Engineering Light Vehicle. Her current employer Nik Fowlie heard about Marama and the great work she was doing in her course from the team at the Auto Super Shoppe Academy. “Marama was doing work experience for another company and Super Shoppe told us about her. She did a one-week trial and she seemed like a good fit, she listened well and didn’t muck around. She is definitely cut from the mechanic cloth.”  

Marama’s journey hasn’t always been easy and credits her great support system to helping achieve her automotive goals while juggling her home and family life. “I have a great support system at home. When I ended up pregnant, we moved home to save up to buy a house. Things took a turn and my parents got sick, so I could support them. There were heaps of people around to help me with my baby and get her off to school so I still had time to do my job and course.”

As to how she’s managed to still study, work and look after her family, the answer is making time. “I work through the eLearning every night after work. I used to have certain days I would study but when my dad got sick, I went back to doing it nightly. If I am behind or something doesn’t look right, I make sure to make time on the weekend to get back up to speed.”

Nik admires Marama’s commitment to the job and her customer focus. “Marama comes into work every day with a smile on her face and she is extremely vital to our operation. She has a real aptitude to customer service.” Nik’s five-year goal is to open another shop and wants Marama to take over at the current one as operations manager.

Nik has nominated Marama for the Capricorn Rising Star awards. “She’s only been an apprentice for two years and it’s a bit scary that I can go out and leave a two-year apprentice in charge to run the workshop if I need. She really deserves this award.” Marama’s hard work has paid off. She has been identified as a top five finalist with the winners still to be announced and have the chance to win $5000.

Marama’s hard work and dedication to achieving her dream is inspiring and one thing she wants to tell future apprentices and women in the industry is to “just go for it. Don’t let anyone hold you back. People have this idea that this is a male-dominated industry, and I was put off in the beginning as I thought the same. However, I have had so much support since the beginning of my career and I’m loving it every day.”

Another huge inspiration for Marama and what inspired her to change her thinking on this being a male dominated industry was a tutor running a workshop through her Auto Super Shoppe course. “I met a lady running a workshop during my course, she gave me really good advice and told me, don’t let anyone hold you back and don’t give up on your dreams.  My thoughts around the automotive industry being male-dominated did get me down when I first began, but when I saw this lady running the workshop, I was like woah! That was a major thing for me. I remember her telling me to look at the positives and She said that if this is your dream, just do it!”

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