WinA Member of the Month
Blaire on location at a Mitsubishi event in New Zealand
This month we are proud to feature the story of Blaire Race’s path from administration assistant to national sales administrator and event manager for Mitsubishi Motors Australia. Taking her opportunity to advocate for her own ability by directly approaching her CEO whilst at a successful event of her creation, Blaire is certainly someone who doesn’t let seniority or lack of connections hold her back from identifying opportunity, or inspiring other women to do the same.
Know of someone you would like to see featured, or interested in being our Member of the Month yourself? Get in touch and let us know!
Tell us a bit about your current role or involvement in the automotive industry.
Blaire: I am the National Sales Administrator and Event Manager for Mitsubishi Motors Australia. I support the national sales team through admin operations, however the bulk of my time goes into the management of our events. At the moment some
aspects of my role are very different and almost entirely digital due to Covid restrictions. I enjoy this change as I’ve been able to upskill substantially, learning how to adapt to a virtual environment. Prior to Covid our events were a physical production, so adjusting to the environment and introducing innovative ideas to connect has been an exciting challenge.
What was your first professional experience within the automotive industry?
Blaire: After I had my 2 babies, I started managing events for a friend’s business that ran workshops for expecting parents – and I discovered I had a passion for event management. I then found a job advertisement for Mitsubishi who were looking for an admin coordinator in Victoria, however I noticed a line in the job description that mentioned event management – it was very small but I zoned in on it. The office was in a good location, there was flexibility in the role, and my dad was a Rally Driver in the 70’s, so I was no stranger to automotive. All of these factors gave me the confidence that I could do well in this role, so I decided to go for it!
After I had a few successful events under my belt, I approached the CEO at the time, John Signoriello at one of my events, whom I hadn’t even met face to face before. I introduced myself as the part time admin assistant, and I explained to him how I could see an events role benefitting the business nationally, and how passionate I was. He encouraged me by offering support, resources, and flexibility in the role. This gave me confidence that I could expand the role while juggling being a single mum, knowing I had the support of the business. From that moment on, I’ve decided I’m not fearful of seniority, we’re all just people and we’re all working towards being the best we can be.
Do you think you have experienced challenges within the industry that your male counterparts haven’t?
Blaire: Yes. Just having a voice is sometimes a surprise to people. I take my space. I claim it. When someone asks me ‘how do you work in auto events, don’t you do long hours? Who looks after your children?’ I usually respond clearly with a reminder that a man wouldn’t be asked this question, so it’s inappropriate to ask me. I look at it as a learning opportunity. As an industry and a society, we are a work in progress when it comes to gender equality, and I’m thankful to have such strong women working towards it with me.
What is your biggest achievement within the automotive industry, personal or professional?
Blaire: I hadn’t won anything since primary school, but recently one of the events I created was awarded Best Incentive Program in the Asia Pacific. I loved planning this event, which made the award all the more special. It was in Queenstown, New Zealand, we were out there for best practice meetings. It was an amazing experience. Trying to tailor a program that was memorable and significant to people with so much exposure to auto events was hard, but that just made me want to work harder. The ground crew at the event asked to take some images for a submission to the Conference & Incentive Travel awards. I said yes and not only did it win the automotive category, but it won the best incentive program across Asia Pacific for all categories. That was my blood sweat and tears. It was an incredible week, the feedback was very positive, and it’s still referenced among colleagues as one of their favourite events, so the award was just the icing on top.
Do you have a favourite resource as a woman working in the automotive industry? Maybe a book, event, organization, mentor, or online platform?
Blaire: Not really a resource in the traditional sense, but I’d say the other women working at Mitsubishi Motors. There’s this undercurrent of female comradery. We definitely support each other. Our head of HR is a woman and I feel like that sets a good tone among the hiring and selection of staff who are employed. Like many industries, auto continues to be heavily male dominated. I want to be an example of what women can achieve in our industry, that there is nothing holding them back from applying for roles and making an impact.
Who is your inspiration as a woman in automotive?
Blaire: Priyani Withaanarachchi (the August WinA Member of the Month). I’ve known her for around 3 years now and she has been a fantastic connection.
We’ve had some similar life experiences which certainly helps to connect us, but beyond that, Priyani is a fantastic person in general, always looking out for others, particularly across automotive. Not only do Priyani’s achievements speak for themselves, but watching the way she conducts herself and how she doesn’t shy away from a challenge is inspiring. Sometimes you are lucky enough to cross paths with someone who makes you reassess your path and Priyani has definitely been that person for me.
What is the best piece of advice that you have received or that you could give to another woman working in the automotive industry?
Blaire: Be confident and be heard. Make that first step and be part of the conversation. I think society teaches young girls that it’s essential to be likable, not to be too pushy, or too loud, or to pull back with your opinions. The sooner we address that ideology as being nonsense, the sooner we can focus on using the space we occupy in the world in an impactful way. My work ethic does not leave space for worrying about being likable.