WinA Member of the Month
This month, we are featuring Nyree Johnson, a small business owner, writer and ambassador for women in business and small business.
Nyree also works as a Workforce Planning Advisor for an electricity distributor and is passionately committed to her family and her community through volunteer activities.
With a dedication to empowering those around her, supporting her community, and promoting diversity and equality, Nyree works to instil and inspire confidence and promote resilience to those around her, in an effort to inspire success now and into the future.
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.
Currently, I’m the co-owner and Business Manager of Johnson’s 4WD Repair Shop and Johnson’s Mobile Mechanical in Rockhampton, Central Queensland.
My husband, Nathan, is a trade qualified light vehicle mechanic who has worked in the field from the age of 16 (now 41). We always dreamed of owning our mechanical workshop and leveraging our skill set, and this dream became a reality in 2015.
I focus on strategic planning, financial forecasting and reporting, as well as tax obligations, marketing, HR, training and development planning and overall management of the businesses.
What was your first professional experience within the automotive industry?
When I was 16 years old, I commenced a business administration traineeship with a regional council in Western Queensland. The role supported the administrative functions of a large-scale mechanical workshop, responsible for servicing and maintaining a council fleet of trucks, light vehicles and machinery.
I worked directly with the workshop foreman, diesel fitters, mechanics, operators, and truck drivers to ensure preventative maintenance in a planned and structured fashion with the room, of course, for breakdowns and reactive work.
Do you think you have experienced challenges within the industry that your male counterparts have not?
Being the only woman working at the council depot, I was occasionally subjected to derogatory comments in my younger years. This occurred 20 years ago, and the behaviours and expectations in the workplace have changed and improved significantly since then, including protocols on how to deal with and address inappropriate activity.
In my current role in the industry, the most frequent challenge I come across is when people ask me, “Do you do the books for hubby’s workshop?”. I don’t take offence; however, I do correct people when they make these comments. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes to ensure the success, sustainability and scalability of a mechanical workshop.
I have a full-time corporate role in the electricity industry outside of my businesses, which means I’m often not present in my workshop. Instead, I manage my responsibilities after hours, on weekends, and my weekly RDO. Nathan too receives the question, “Does your wife do the books?” and he politely corrects them too.
As many of us know, the automotive industry isn’t isolated in its challenges regarding gender equality, however we’re definitely making progress
What is your biggest achievement within the automotive industry, personal or professional?
Three years into my journey as a business owner and manager, Nathan and I won two industry recognition awards. Our region's ‘Best in Business’ awards saw us nominated, voted, interviewed, and announced as winners of the automotive and marine category in 2018. In addition, we also won the overall business of the year for the region in 2018.
Do you have a favourite resource as a woman working in the automotive industry? Maybe a book, event, organisation, mentor, or online platform?
My favourite resource is the friends, family and professional contacts I have in my region of Central Queensland. Their support, wisdom and guidance are invaluable.
I read many books and listen to a lot of audiobooks on topics ranging from personal growth and development to business management, leadership, strategy and finance. If there is a topic I’m curious about, I’ll research it to understand it in more detail, including topics in automotive that I’m less acquainted with.
I learn a lot, too, by re-writing my husband’s draft mechanical blog posts. He writes as he speaks, and he has a talent for making mechanical matters understandable to the everyday person. Recently, I learnt a lot about catch cans - a topic I’d generally not have an interest in, but one in which he wanted to educate me about.
Who is your inspiration as a female in automotive?
I’m a big fan of Jessica Yates, thanks to her work as a Supercar presenter. Motorsports are essentially the only sport I enjoy watching, and I love Jessica’s confidence, the way she presents and holds herself, and her hair! And yes, I’d even reference hair if she was a male presenter, provided the hair was as great as hers!
Jessica has a wonderful presence and shares her life openly on social media - from juggling her new baby, through to sharing her family journey.
What is the best piece of advice that you have received or that you could give to another woman working in the automotive industry?
Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and step outside of your comfort zone because that is exactly where the magic happens, and personal growth comes alive!