Accelerating through the glass ceiling

Nerys Jenkins – Group Service Manager

Productivity in the workplace is improved when gender equality is supported within that business. Inclusive teams make better business decisions 87% of the time and a study cited by The i Paper from The Pipeline also ‘found that there is a sharp difference in the net profit margins of companies that have diverse gender leaderships compared to those that don’t’.

Businesses can be harmed by not having enough women making important decisions.

At Fordthorne we are family owned and run, with inclusivity at the core of our business. The automotive industry is historically male dominated, and we want to showcase those who have broken the mould and succeeded. Nerys Jenkins is Group Service Manager at our Fordthorne operation, and we sat down to talk to Nerys about her experiences in the industry and what challenges and obstacles she has had to overcome in her career so far.

Q: How long have you worked at Fordthorne?

I have been at Fordthorne for a total of 12 Years, the first of seven as Service Manager for Ford, Volvo and HiQ.  I returned after taking an 11-month break as Group Service Manager and have been in this role coming up to 5 years now.

Q: What daily duties does your role hold?

I oversee the day-to-day running of our three service departments, Ford Car, Transit and Volvo as well as our HiQ Autocentre.

Q: Why did you join Fordthorne?

I joined Fordthorne after being in the Motor Trade for 13 years, 10 of which were as a Service Manager for various manufactures including: Ford, Vauxhall, MG and Chevrolet.  I was asked to interview for the vacant Service Manager’s position by the Operations Manager who had heard that I was possibly looking for a move.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working at Fordthorne?

I enjoy working with people. I get to work with a great team but there are many opportunities to work independently which I enjoy. Even though I do not fix cars and vans myself, I like to keep in touch with new vehicle technology.

Q: What would you say/advice to other women looking to break into a historically male dominated industry?

Be confident in your own ability, work hard and always lead by example.  People will need to trust you to follow you and know that you will act with integrity and that you will not let them down.  I still feel that even in the 21st Century, you will still need to work harder and be smarter to be recognised ahead of your male colleagues but once you gain that respect, you will find that people are loyal and will work well for you as a team.

Q: For those women who may be put off by the industry, what advice would you give to those?

It is not for the faint hearted whether you are a woman or a man but it helps if you are naturally confident and resilient!  It is a great industry to be in; you learn something new all the time and is generally quite fast paced therefore never boring!  Do not be put off by stereotypes, the industry is changing and evolving and more women are joining the motor trade as technicians and more are now recognised as leaders.

Q: Have you encountered pervasive stereotypes, and lack of mentoring because you are a female and if so how have you combatted these societal behaviours to succeed?

I have encountered those pervasive stereotypes but I tend to rise above it – if they want to stay stuck in the dark ages that is up to them, I am not interested in them or their opinions and I have very little tolerance for it.  I do not think that I have ever had a lack of mentoring as I have always had great managers, who embraced my enthusiasm for the job.  I started my career in the Motor Industry as a Service Advisor in a small family business in Bridgend in 1995.  All the senior staff were men, including the owner and my Service Manager.   I learnt a huge amount from both of them, they were great mentors and teachers, and they believed in my ability and gave me confidence. I also worked with some great technicians, mostly men who were clever, talented, loyal and always respectful.  I am pleased to say that some of them have become good friends over the years.

Do not be put off by stereotypes, the industry is changing and evolving and more women are joining the motor trade as technicians and more are now recognised as leaders.

International Women’s Day does not mean there is only one day for women. The support and celebration should be 365 days a year.