Jacqui Carroll -
WinA Member of the Month July 2020
If you’ve been to any Women in Automotive events in the last year and a half, chances are you will have seen or spoken to our July WinA Member of the Month, Jacqui Carroll.
Jacqui’s experience in automotive has spanned a number of years, from owning a panel shop with her husband (Yarroweyah Panels) back in the late 1970’s, to now working in Bendigo with a commercial repair shop (Bendigo Accident Repair Centre) & also restoration shop (Bendigo Retro Muscle Cars). As if that wasn’t enough, Jacqui is also involved with motor racing from a grassroots level through the Bendigo Car Club as a committee member, as well as the Touring Car Masters Category – helping with administration & general duties with Gary O’Brien Racing/John Bowe Racing.
So, it was no question why we wanted to find out more about Jacqui and her story as a woman working in automotive, and let us just say, it’s a fantastic story at that!
Tell us a bit about your current role or involvement in the automotive industry.
Jacqui: My title is something like ‘Administration Assistant’ but if I were to explain it, I would say ‘Jill of All Trades’. On a daily basis I could be helping to source parts, placing orders, banking, assisting with IT issues, social media, you name it. I really enjoy getting to try my hand at all these different tasks, it certainly keeps the day interesting!
What was your first professional experience within the automotive industry?
Jacqui: My first real experience actually working in the racing industry would be when I was assisting Wayne Mercer, a privateer in the Touring Car Masters category. I met Wayne through going to the races and I volunteered to help with his team and it progressed from there. I had a strong passion for Retro racing at the time so it was a natural step. I went to Bathurst with him, I’d drive to Sydney to pick up parts, the whole thing was such a new and exciting experience for me. The love came from there, I didn’t want to drive but I had such a passion for the industry. I liked being in the background. I was lucky enough to do a season of assisting the Drivers Standard Officer Peter Wollerman for TCM & I am now officiating at other events. I was also lucky enough to work with the (now retired) three times Australian National Champion drag racer, Graham Withers. I was helping to get his name out there and assisting Graham and his staff in different areas. Once again, I was lucky enough to get in touch and we agreed to work together. If I had my time again, I’d like to be in the backstage area of events, making all things happen in the background.
Do you think you have experienced challenges within the industry that your male counterparts haven’t?
Jacqui: Definitely. Turning 60 this year, I found that I had to know someone just to get a foot in the door, as not only was I a minority by my gender but also by my age. I was always happy to start at the bottom, but I just didn’t see any opportunities to actually start!
When I found the WinA guidebook How to Attract, Recruit, and Retain Women in the Australian Automotive Industry, I thought that was fantastic. Resources like the guidebook weren’t there 10 years ago, and trust me, I looked very hard to find something similar.
I’m currently mentoring a young woman in the industry. I always say that if I don’t have the answers for her right now, I’ll find them eventually. That’s what I would have wanted when I was entering the industry but it was so hard to find anything.
Nowadays, there’s a ‘come and try day’ event held regularly by the Bendigo Car Club. Just recently I saw a young boy who came along and I think his sister was attending her first event. In the end, the sister ended up beating her brother, not sure how the drive home would have been. I would have loved to see something like that as a younger girl, but I’m glad I at least get to see it now.
What is your biggest achievement in auto, personal or professional?
I think I’m still to achieve. I want to create a program similar to WinA but specifically for women of all ages working in the racing side of automotive one day. We’re in the process of building a car that I wanted to have run by an all-female team but it’s been delayed by the pandemic.
I spoke last year at an event held by a Rachelle Stirling called Race Chix Motorsport Community, and that was very exciting. I’m also currently writing an automotive book. It’s based on Gary (the Owner of Bendigo Accident Repair Centre) and his work in auto, because I find he has fantastic stories to tell.
Do you have a favourite resource as a woman working in the automotive industry? Maybe book, event, organization, mentor, or online platform?
Jacqui: Women in Automotive. 100%. It sounds cheesy but it’s true! I go looking for new content from WinA almost daily. I really hadn’t heard much about it until late last year. I knew of a few niche groups for women in the industry, but I love that WinA is so approachable and all-encompassing of the industry. I always feel welcomed at a WinA event which is really nice.
Jacqui is pictured below with some of our WinA International Women's Day Breakfast guests, including Sally O'Meara (far left) of Bendigo Accident Repair Centre and Rachelle Stirling (standing) of Race Chix Motorsport.
Who is your inspiration as a female in automotive?
One of my inspirations is definitely Sally O’Meara. Sally runs the 2 businesses (Bendigo Accident Repair Centre and Bendigo Retro Muscle Cars) and she keeps them operating successfully. I really enjoy that fact that Sally has gone out and explored the world but chose to come back, which I find very telling of her passion. There are a few women in motorsport who are inspiring, but I just don’t know their stories. That is why I like initiatives like this (WinA Member of the Month articles) where we get to learn more about the real women in auto. These stories are amazing, but they are only just getting the airtime they deserve now.
Finally, what is the best piece of advice that you have received or that you could give to another woman working in the automotive industry?
Jacqui: Never give up. Always ask. If you don’t know, ask. There’s no such thing as a silly question. You never know who you are going to meet, and if they can’t help you, 9 times out of 10 they’ll know someone who can help.
For example, I want to end up in race control one day. Lauren (Loza) Weaver, who is the President of Motorcycling Victoria, is helping me to start a path to that goal in Motorcycling, and Jessica Nicholson who I was introduced to at the Australian Grand Prix, is helping me in the motor racing arena to achieve the same goal. I ran into Lauren at a work-related course we both attended. I overheard someone say her name, and I couldn’t quite pick where I knew it from, so I asked her what she did, and that’s how I made that amazing connection. If I didn’t ask, I would have never known.
Bendigo Accident Repair Centre also happens to be a member of the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC). Interested in becoming a member? Find out more here.
Interested in being featured as our next WinA member of the month, or know someone who would be a great candidate? Send an email with the subject 'WinA Member of the Month' to firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know!