Real Voices: Ann-Marie Dean

Look beyond the obvious.

I have always been around the automotive industry. My Dad is a car mechanic, so growing up I spent lots of time in garages. After leaving school, I started my career in the automotive industry in a garage in Devon as an apprentice vehicle technician. After completing two years, I unfortunately injured my back and had to give up my apprenticeship. I went on to complete an NVQ Level 3 in Parts and Operations in a VW dealership and from there moved into the service department. I gained valuable experience in a customer facing environment and was eventually promoted to senior service advisor.

Whilst working at the dealership, I became acquainted with staff at the manufacturer (Chevrolet/Vauxhall) head office and when a job opportunity to work for the manufacturer presented itself, I leapt at the opportunity. I went and worked at the Vauxhall head office in Luton, Bedfordshire.

This job role gave me an in-depth understanding of the workings of a vehicle manufacturer. Eventually when PSA bought Vauxhall, the job role I was was made redundant. A good friend made me aware of a job role being advertised with an OE power transmission supplier, I applied and became the Area Sales Manager for the Southwest and Ireland for Dayco.

Without doubt, my experience as a technician has been crucial for my career so far. Being able to explain to customers work required or having been carried out in my service advisor role, discussing technical queries with technicians in my retailer support role for Chevrolet and now in my role with Dayco when visiting garages.

The best part of my job is spending time visiting garages and speaking to customers. There are so many developing technologies in the industry and I love being able to teach and train others about product innovations.

The biggest misconception is that you don’t have to be very bright to have a career in automotive. There are so many emerging technologies that you always have something new to learn. Within the span of a career, you can go from working on traditional mechanics to fibre optic technology.

The other misconception is that the industry is male-dominated, whilst this used to be the case, there are so many more women in the industry now and I see more and more women in the workplace on customer visits – and this is only increasing.

Look beyond the obvious. Working in a local garage isn’t the only opportunity in the industry. I see so many different roles and backgrounds on a day-to-day basis. For example, you could find yourself in a role working internationally for F1. The industry is huge, so don’t take it at face value. If you can get your foot in the door, there could be a whole new world out there for you.

There really are so many amazing opportunities for anyone and everyone. The variety of people working in the sector makes it the brilliant sector that it is. From designing race cars to working in a hands-on role completing services and MOTs, there is something for everyone!

Ann-Marie’s words of wisdom

“If you can get your foot in the door, there could be a whole new world out there for you. There really are so many amazing opportunities for anyone and everyone.”