27-year-old Aaron Baylis has been with Hawke’s Bay Toyota Napier for the past eight years. Over that time, he completed his light vehicle apprenticeship, was promoted to workshop foreman and technical advisor, and received a 2020 MITO scholarship.

After completing his light vehicle apprenticeship through MITO, Aaron expected a career on the tools. Now working as workshop foreman and a technical advisor, Aaron still has time on the tools, but has also discovered his passion for management and customer service. “In terms of management, I love helping my technicians get through the day,” he says. “Especially with the apprentices, I enjoy seeing them grow like I did, that’s really satisfying.”

Aaron gets to put his customer service skills to use in his technical advisor role, working closely with customers to answer specialist questions and diagnose issues. “Here at Toyota we really value our customers and rely on their feedback,” he says. “I spend a lot of my day with them, in person and over the phone, ensuring that they are happy with the service. I do enjoy that; I love helping people and fixing problems.”

Keen to develop his management skills, and with encouragement from his Service Manager and MITO Industry Training Advisor, Aaron applied for a MITO Clyde Cunningham QSM Memorial scholarship. The scholarship, which was established in honour of the late Clyde Cunningham, a long-standing MITO employee, is awarded to a MITO automotive graduate in the Hawke's Bay region, and pays the programme fees for MITO’s New Zealand Certificate in Business (First Line Management) (Level 4) qualification.

Aaron, now three months into his qualification, is finding real value in the content. “So far the programme has really helped me with my job, it’s exactly what I needed,” he says. “Everything it includes is everything I need to know for my job, and to grow my future here.”

Aaron says that because the programme is so relevant to the work he does daily, he finds it easy to stay motivated. “Because it is so well suited for my role, and because I’m learning so much, I want to put the effort in to completing it. I’m enjoying learning different ways of management and new techniques that I can use in my role to make it easier for me.”

Darren Walker, Hawke’s Bay Toyota Napier Service Manager, sees Aaron as a well deserving recipient of the scholarship. “He’s a brilliant worker, and a really good leader for the boys in the workshop,” he says. “He’s really enjoying the programme and it’s helping him get his head around more of the back end of the business side of things - that really helps a good foreman.”

Like Aaron, Darren completed his apprenticeship through MITO at Hawke’s Bay Toyota Napier, and can see the value of bringing young talent into the workshop. “It’s nice to see someone come in knowing nothing and then be able to see them develop into a really capable technician.”

“I think a lot of people go through school thinking that if they don’t go to university they’re not going to make anything of themselves, and that’s just not the case,” says Aaron. “People assume that being a mechanic is this rough, strenuous work that will leave you covered in grease, but really, there’s so much technology involved,” he explains. “We need kids coming through who have great computer skills, because that’s such a huge part of our cars now.”

“There are opportunities to do anything in this industry,” says Aaron. “Young people should really consider an apprenticeship because once you’re in the trade you can grow – and I’ve proven that through MITO.”

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