WinA Member of the Month
This month we are featuring Ajay Hammer from Aylmore Motors Workshop in Albany, Western Australia. Finding her passion and drive for automotive at 11 years old, Ajay has had a career spanning 12 years across multiple sectors of the automotive industry and has been competitive speedway racing for 17 years.
Coming up to a year in her dream role in the industry, Ajay balances her love for Speedway and champions women in automotive in all areas of her life.
Know of someone you would like to see featured as our next Women in Automotive Member of the Month, or interested in sharing your own automotive story? Get in touch below and let us know.
Tell us a bit about your current role or involvement in the automotive industry.
After 12 years of moving my way through various sectors of the automotive industry, I finally landed my dream role late last year. I manage the front of house and office of a small, yet busy automotive workshop here in WA. A one-woman-job, I handle everything from reception duties, spare part sales, service advice, workshop scheduling, accounts, and general office duties.
I have a small team of three in the workshop, including my partner who owns the business. However, with the addition of my role last year he can now go back to what he loves doing best - working on cars!
When I was 11, I had the opportunity to be a passenger in a family friend’s Street Stock (Speedway). One week later, I had my very own junior sedan. Fast forward 17 years and I am still racing Speedway and have moved through production sedans, AMCA Nationals and now onto my dream race division. The move to Super Sedans was huge for me - finally, a big V8 on dirt!
I am an Executive Committee member at my local Speedway club in Mount Barker, where I also work as a Junior Division Representative, Junior Experience Car Coordinator (a learner two-seater vehicle to entice kids into racing) and the club’s Social Media Manager.
What was your first professional experience within the automotive industry?
Besides having raced Motorsport for approximately six years at this point, I first stepped into the automotive industry when I was still at school. I attended an agricultural college where I was able to study mechanics as a trade subject. At the time, women in automotive was still a ‘precious’ subject - so much so, I ended up leaving school to prove the world wrong.
I eventually scored myself a role as a Parts Interpreter at a regional Case IH dealer, which was a blast! There was so much to learn, especially in the middle of harvest season when you’re dealing with lots of customers during a demanding time of year. It taught me to be thick skinned and I was able to develop professionally from some of the challenges I faced.
Reflecting on these challenges now, it reminds me of how the world has evolved with women in automotive. It hasn’t always been sunflowers and roses, but I feel like we’re getting there!
Do you think you have experienced challenges within the industry that your male counterparts have not?
Most certainly! I can’t count the number of times customers - both male & female - have walked into a workplace and said, “Is there a male mechanic around?”. I’m sure a lot of women in the industry can relate to this!
However, the industry is slowly changing and in those challenging situations I’ve learnt sometimes you just need to bite your tongue and continue offering your help and expertise to every customer. By doing this, people slowly learn that you are far more capable than their expectations.
What is your biggest achievement within the automotive industry, personal or professional?
That’s a tough one. Everything I have done has been a big achievement. However, my current role managing Aylmore Motors would have to take the cake.
I have strategically gained experience in every workshop department (parts, service, admin) over the past 10 years of my career, whilst also studying business on the side. This was my dream and I am definitely living it which I’m proud of. Who knows, maybe one day I will co-own it too!
Do you have a favourite resource as a woman working in the automotive industry? Maybe a book, event, organisation, mentor, or online platform?
I actually don’t however, after joining Women in Automotive recently, I consider it to be a great resource. I do also attend local female entrepreneur events on the odd occasion and partake on a few forums where I keep tabs on the industry. I have a lot of friends who are also women in business, so we always chat, network and support each other – living in a small regional city means we try to band together.
Who is your inspiration as a female in automotive?
Can I say myself? Is that bad?! Haha – no, I guess I don’t really have a role model or someone who has inspired me. Often, I look back at what I’ve achieved and feel inspired with where I started and where I am heading. It has been quite the journey, so I like to use my own story to drive myself further.
What is the best piece of advice that you have received or that you could give to another woman working in the automotive industry?
I was always told to never give up - whether that was with my career or my racing.
Another piece of advice is to always be confident! I have found that if I have confidence in my own knowledge and what I’m talking about, my customers have confidence in me too. This has gained me a lot of respect & customer retention throughout my career.