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Andrea Matthews

Motoring Editor, RACV

With decades of experience in the automotive industry - from PR and corporate communications to journalism, and as the owner of two automotive workshops in rural Victoria - Andrea's skills, insights and experience are vast.  

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What is your current role?


I am the motoring editor for the RACV. I am responsible for road testing new vehicles and carrying out reviews on those for the RACV website, for members to get advice about buying their next car. I've also got a particular focus on electric vehicles, and that’s exciting given I've got a bit of a history in working in that sector prior to joining the RACV.


Your first experience working in the automotive industry?


Technically, my first experience was working for a video games company who produced driving games or for PlayStation and for PC. It was really interesting because, at that point, a lot of the designers had actually done training in automotive design. The first position I had working for a manufacturer, was working as corporate affairs manager for Holden at the factory in Elizabeth, when they were still making cars. That role was quite diverse, there was media relations, internal communications and some government relations activity. It was a really well-rounded position and a great opportunity to support Holden and its workers during the manufacturing process and then when going through the global financial crisis. 


How do you manage work-life juggle?


I think the most important thing is to find work and pastimes that you really enjoy. It's a real cliche that if you find something that you love, you won't feel like you're actually doing work and it's definitely the case [for me]. It’s good to have the opportunity that I've got the RACV, but it's also nice to be able to go home at the end of the day and head out into the garden and do some work around the property. I've got quite good at relaxing on the weekends and enjoying things like eating out and all those normal things that you get to do in regional Victoria. But managing our small business for the last 10 years has definitely been very rewarding, working in the aftermarket industries and helping our customers. So it's a matter of finding stuff that you enjoy doing and then everything kind of seems to slot into place. 


Are there any non-negotiables in your day or morning routine? 


Coffee! I actually really struggle with routine and I think that's why I like the variety of jobs that I have so much. I can kind of pick and choose what I do to a certain extent during the course of the day. One thing I have noticed is that I have a lot better energy and focus during the morning. So typically I'll try and get work done that requires a bit more brain time, before lunch. I always try to have a break at lunch - that's really important. There's a tendency just to sit at your desk and power through, but I think it's really important to have a break and to build in some scheduled rest time during the day. It really helps let the brain recuperate when you're doing a lot of creative writing. I don’t have a morning routine. I’d love to be one of these people who gets up at  5am and smashes out, you know, 1000 words and then gets the rest of the household up and cooks them breakfast… but I don't really think that those people exist. It’s a myth!  


Important skills - as a manager, and being managed. 


Communication is key. It helps to set expectations. Managing up, that means helping to set expectations with your leader on what might be achievable or what might be, you know, just too much of a bigger volume of work than you can deal with given competing priorities. And then in terms of working with the team, it's about setting some really clear expectations and goals around expected outcomes. My working style and leadership style it's very much hands off, so I think you’ve got to trust people to get on and get work completed without having to give them step-by-step instructions. But that being said, if you're working with somebody that perhaps has got some new skills to learn… then it's important to make the time to just sit and go through what needs to be done. That also helps manage expectations and avoids mistakes or avoids work having to be re-done.


Go-to resources – books, podcasts? 


I’m a bit of a course junkie! So if there's a digital course that looks anywhere vaguely interesting, I’ll probably sign up for it! Mainly in the areas of personal development and new marketing opportunities. I'm really interested in how individuals have built their entire business on delivering training and digital products, making life easier for people. Improving your skills base, all of that side of things, I find really interesting. And Audible… pretty much all of my books are some kind of improvement type book where, you know, even if you're not listening to the whole thing, usually I find that you get some hints and tips on how to work smarter and not harder. 


The other thing I've noticed in my journey and as I've listened to more podcasts and a bit more self exploration, is that sometimes you have a tendency to think that, as you’re struggling with all this stuff by myself, that nobody else is going through the same thing. And I think the really good thing about connecting with people online, particularly within a network like Women in Automotive, is that you can actually find lots of people that are going through very similar things. That is really helpful in terms of self development, finding out that there's a community of people that are going through the same thing and have come out the other side and learning from them…  finding out that you're not on your own.


Best career advice?


Understanding that there are lots of different career opportunities which might not be open to you on first inspection. I never thought that automotive journalism would be a career path for me and it was through an introduction by a third party in my network where I actually got to start working for carsales. Take a risk, grabb the opportunity, have a go. See what happens. 


Talk to me about the change you’ve seen?


I’m really happy to see some more younger females, motoring journalists, coming through the ranks. I would really like to see not only their presence on their respective media outlets, but I think I would like to see more women represented across network opportunities – attending launches or participating in industry wide initiatives, championing the role of women in journalism.  I definitely see organisations like and doing some really good things in that regard. 


The other aspect is probably from a technology point of view. When I worked at Holden, many years ago, I worked on the introduction of the first electric vehicle from Holden, which was the Volt. From a personal and professional point of view, it's really encouraging to see the uptake of electric vehicles accelerating now and I think that gives us a whole new opportunity to talk again about the industry, and where it's heading. Let’s get people engaged in the industry and excited about what's happening from a technology point of view. 

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