The Meet The Team series is back! The January edition introduces you to Khulu, Associational Representative for Gauteng, Pretoria and North West. An industry professional of eleven years, Khulu’s goal is to see more women in the automotive sector. Learn more about what motivates and inspires her and why she is passionate about motor body repair.
Happy New Year, Khulu! We are so excited to talk to you! Please kick things off by telling us a bit about yourself, and what led you to work in the motor body repair industry?
I started in the automotive industry 11 years ago. I saw a job advertisement and applied for it, even though I had no automotive experience. At the time, I was in corporate and held various administrative positions within project management, business development and account management sectors.When I started my career, my family struggled to understand what I was doing due to the stigma of the MBR sector. But I worked hard to build my own credibility by really immersing myself in order to learn. The automotive industry is dynamic, flexible and open to all people and is a great environment to build a career. If you want to advance, you need to continue to put your hand up and say, “I may not know how to do this, but I can do that, so give me a chance to try.” I was never afraid to fail, as I knew that if I was adding value either for my employer or customers I was moving forward. I also credit a lot to my mentor, who when I started my automotive career, he saw something in me, pushed me and invested in training and presenting various opportunities within the business.
Who or what inspires you, and why?
Diversity and progress that is happening in the automotive industry! Thanks to the women already driving change from within, who come from all walks of life, different stages of their career, and in various roles. The perception that women can’t do the same job as men in the automotive sector is changing. Women are valued and widely accepted now. We’re seeing more and more women become leaders on the technical side of our industry as well. It motivates me to continue to learn and grow in my career path in the industry, set an example and encourage the next generation of women to embrace the automotive industry!
What is your main role as a SAMBRA Associational Representative?
Supporting our members through communication and member liaison regarding all SAMBRA matters.
What does a typical day look like as an Associational Representative (AR)?
Grading audits, recruitment and retention and member visits. Processing of applications, issuing of member certificates, attending to queries, member liaison, dispute resolution and reporting on activities.
What is your favourite part of the job? And why?
I believe representation matters when it comes to paving the way for others, so breaking into a male dominated industry is at the top of the list. My hope is that my perseverance will be a guiding light for women interested in joining the automotive industry. I would like women entering or transitioning into this industry to understand that their path is limitless and that as long as they have drive, they will get to where they want to go.
Can you name some challenges facing SAMBRA members in the motor body repair sector today, and how you think, we as an industry could overcome this/these challenges?
There are shortages of technical and core skills, which pose a huge challenge to the industry. I believe that skills development and lifelong learning are key to investing in people to ensure sustainable work in the automotive industry.
Why would you recommend working in our sector, and what advice would you give to those looking to start a career in Motor Body Repair?
Our industry is exciting and progressive. It offers highly skilled jobs and career opportunities, plus it has really professionalised itself in recent years.
To succeed in our industry, be dedicated to constant learning and continuing to improve your work. Always have confidence in your own abilities – this will carry you! And keep investing in yourself.
For the females, we are still the minority, but it’s about how you present yourself and prepare yourself. Research and understanding of the industry allows the gender focus to dissipate.
What do you like to do in your spare time? A hobby or passion?
Hiking – I love the outdoors! I also enjoy reading and travelling. I am passionate about helping people take steps towards changing their lives, so am always sharing opportunities, trying to empower and offer guidance.
And finally, what does your perfect Sunday look like?
A good book, any sermon by Sarah Jakes Roberts and 100 naps.
More SAMBRA ‘Meet The Team’ article in this series:
Meet Randall Langenhoven – https://sambra.biz/meet-the-team-series-randall/
Meet Abie Kriek – https://sambra.biz/meet-the-team-series-spotlight-on-abie-kriek/
Meet Kevin Abrahams – https://sambra.biz/meet-the-team-series-spotlight-on-kevin-abrahams/