I have always had a love of cars, having been brought up in a car-oriented family. I also have a love of art and colour, so rather than settle for a boring 9-5 desk job, I thought I would combine the best of both worlds and pursue a career as a Vehicle Body Refinishing Technician. Alex Roy is typical of the many women who juggle the responsibilities of family life with a career. Discover for yourself just how far her passion for the trade has taken her.
“A typical day for me includes getting my daughter up and ready for preschool (or at least attempting to!), battling traffic to get her there and then continuing the battle to get to the workshop. Once I arrive at work I am normally in charge of opening the shop, getting the cars out and parked along the fence and proceeding to get everything ready for the day. Other than that, no day at work is the same. At any single moment, I may be repairing minor damage on car yard vehicles or repainting the front end on an insurance job. When asked, our shop has also been known to paint glass splash-backs and trendy high-end metal crafted furniture.
Then the morning routine is reversed - shut everything off, squeeze the cars back into the shop, then battle afternoon traffic to preschool and home. After that it's a juggling act between dinner time, stories, bed and general mum duties!
I love the ability to get hands-on with my work and see the difference I can make to a car - whether it be a simple cut and buff on someone's daily car, a full respray on an old classic or even repairs to a heavily damaged vehicle.
I balance being a tradie and family life with great difficultly sometimes. It can be a very tiring job and long hours don't help. This does mean that my daughter is in day care for long periods of time, however I am lucky enough to have a great boss who understands that when kids get sick, they want their Mum! So if she is ever sick, he is happy to allow me to take whatever time off needed to look after her - as well as duck out of work early for special school occasions.
Of course, the other challenge of being a tradie are encounters with people who still have outdated views on women and their ability to do male oriented jobs. My advice is to pick a workshop whose employees see you as an equal and don't have old-fashioned opinions on careers for women. I have only recently become qualified after an extended apprenticeship, due to taking time off to have my first daughter - and now time off again to have my first son.
In my third year I became the first woman to win the ACT Colour Matching Competition. I then competed in Adelaide in the PPG National Colour Matching Competition against other State champions. I won this too! Since then I have appeared in numerous industry magazine articles and local newspapers. I was also given the NRMA Future Leader of Industry Award this year.
Today, I had another interview with a local newspaper in relation to Canberra Institute of Technology's celebration of Women in Trades event later this week, which will lead into a range of Master Class sessions next year - one of which I am hosting.
I have yet to make a decision about how to develop my career. I would love to assist more women to get into automotive trades. There are so many opportunities out there - I could continue on the tools, move toward work within one of the large paint companies or even continue my automotive education and learn more about the custom side of the industry."