WinA Member of the Month
This month, we are featuring Hayley O'Grady.
In her Q&A, she talks about how her job as a teenager at an Auto One store foreshadowed her career in the automotive industry.
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.
I’m the PR and Trade Communications Manager for Drive.com.au. This is my second stint at Drive, having recently returned from maternity leave with my two daughters. Prior to joining Drive and the Nine group, I worked at Hyundai Motor Company Australia for 10+ years across a variety of roles within marketing. My roles included brand management and sponsorships & events, with the bulk of my time spent within the PR department.
What was your first professional experience within the automotive industry?
Funnily enough, my first paid role within the automotive industry was at my local Auto One parts and accessories store when I was 16. My mum answered an ad in the local newspaper on my behalf and I worked part-time every weekend for two years. Never did I think I’d end up forging a career in automotive marketing!
Do you think you have experienced challenges within the industry that your male counterparts have not?
It sounds cliché, but the juggle is very real for me in my current life stage. Navigating spending time with my babies while trying to keep abreast of a changing automotive landscape, and eventually returning to a supportive part-time work environment, has been quite a personal challenge. Throughout my career, I have become quite used to being the only woman at a PR event or in a boardroom, so I’ve heard all the blokey jokes. And whilst I’ve worked for and with some very supportive male colleagues, I haven’t had access to many female executives or mentors within my career. Although, I have noticed this is definitely changing within the Australian motoring industry lately.
What is your biggest achievement within the automotive industry, personal or professional?
Some of my favourite travel memories and experiences can be attributed to various roles I’ve held within the automotive sphere. I was lucky enough to spend a season working overseas on a client’s sponsorship of the iconic Williams F1 team. I’ve experienced exclusive international drives and product launches, including hydrogen and electric vehicles, at exclusive testing centres over ten years ago, well ahead of achieving their current household status. And currently at Drive we have several female-led initiatives in the pipeline that I’m really excited to be championing.
Do you have a favourite resource as a woman working in the automotive industry? Maybe a book, event, organization, mentor, or online platform?
Being a communications person, I love to read. In my opinion, you can’t beat the touchy-feely sensation of a magazine or newspaper. I always flick straight to the motoring section. I enjoy how the articles integrate within the overall publication and always have a topical flavour to them. The Weekend Australian magazine and Instyle are in high rotation on my bedstand.
Of course, I need to mention Drive.com.au as my go to auto resource. The site regularly posts provocative opinion pieces and cultural trips down memory lane.
Who is your inspiration as a female in automotive?
I really enjoy content from Noelle Faulkner, I basically read everything she writes. Her style and sense of self really comes through in her words. I’ve also had the pleasure of seeing Sam Johnson from Polestar speak at several events. She comes across as an inspiring leader and a genuine reflection of an exciting brand that is going from strength to strength.
What is the best piece of advice that you have received or that you could give to another woman working in the automotive industry?
At times the Australian automotive industry can feel quite small, I’ve seen the same familiar names move between brands or media outlets throughout my career. It pays to be nice to people, you’re bound to cross paths several times over.