Never too late to realise your dream job

Shanel has had a passion for cars since she was young, but it took a while to realise her ideal career was in the automotive industry. She completed a conjoint bachelor’s degree in science and management followed by a diploma in veterinary nursing, but her heart was still with cars.

Shanel with NRG Auto Service Centre owner Martin.

After landing a job as an administrator in a paint and panel shop, Shanel was about to start an apprenticeship when the business liquidated. Despite this, she was determined not to give up. “If you’ve got an interest in it and push yourself, you can get there.” Shanel persevered, found employment and completed the MITO – Te Pūkenga New Zealand Certificate of Light Automotive Engineering (Level 3 and 4). She will always be grateful to Forest Hill Motors owner Heiko Schickedanz for giving her a chance, recognising her worth and supporting her to achieve her dream of completing an apprenticeship in the automotive industry.

Less than a year later, and she is continuing to upskill. Now working in Invercargill at NRG Auto Service Centre, also part of the Auto Super Shoppes group, Shanel has begun the MITO – Te Pūkenga New Zealand Certificate in Electric Vehicle Automotive Engineering (Level 5). “I’m always keen to level up and expand my knowledge in this industry,” Shanel says as to why she decided to undertake further training. She has enjoyed the programme so far and appreciates the opportunity to take apart the electric motors and gearboxes, see the electric batteries up close and remove battery packs to charge and balance them. “There are not many technicians around here who have been through electric vehicle training so it’s definitely an advantage for this area,” Shanel says. NRG Auto Service Centre owner Martin Garrick agrees that “it’s always good to know more” and believes the programme is a way to futureproof their business.

Although it was hard to get her foot in the door at first, Shanel has more than proven herself as a successful woman in the automotive industry. “It was a lot of hard work but once I put my head down, I could get to where I needed to be.” Shanel advises other women to “try your best to get experience, work your hardest, learn as much as you can, and you will get there eventually.” Martin believes having more women in the automotive industry is great. “It just adds to the diversity and creates a good atmosphere.”

Shanel says none of this would have been possible though without the help of a MITO Alumni Māori scholarship. Shanel was really happy when she found out she had received the scholarship which would fund her training. “It’s another step forward in my career,” she says. Martin thought it was brilliant and well deserved. “She’s got a great attitude, a good memory for putting things back together and she’s not scared to attack anything,” he says. Both recommend anyone thinking of applying for a scholarship to just “go for it!”

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