Each month, we are going to interview one of our members as our WinA member of the month. These interviews intend to not only raise the profile of the member in question, but to also serve as an interest piece and inspiration for others. Know someone who should be interviewed, or interested in being interviewed yourself? Make sure to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with 'Member of the Month' in the subject line!
So, without further ado, our December WinA member of the month is Denise McMaster!
Prior to Denise’s current work as a life coach for business owners in the automotive industry, Denise owned and operated a Midas store in Hobart for over 8 years! Having come into the business with no prior automotive experience, the jump was, in Denise’s own words, "quite the learning curve". Armed with her bachelor’s degree in accounting/finance, a graduate diploma in human resource management, and a certificate in life coaching and emotional freedom technique, Denise is constantly reinventing herself and her work, which is why we were so excited to chat with her!
Tell us a bit about your current role or involvement in the automotive industry.
Denise: I still work part time at Midas, which I enjoy. I do mostly the same work but its not my money I’m dealing with anymore – which I like! However, my main work now is as a life coach. I was always interested in life coaching and wanted to intertwine it into my work as a business owner and on a personal growth level. I love helping others become more confident in themselves and their roles.
What was your first professional experience within the automotive industry?
Denise: My husband (at the time) and I owned a business across the road from Midas, so when we sold that, we wanted to find another business to buy. That’s when we thought of Midas. I didn’t even know cars had oil filters, but I was an accounting major so my main interest was in the business side it, and I was ready to learn all that I could about the rest.
Do you think you have experienced challenges within the industry that your male counterparts wouldn’t need to experience?
Denise: Some customers refused to talk to me when they needed to book their cars in – they want to talk directly to the boss, which was a mechanic in their minds – a male mechanic. They’d refuse to accept that I was the boss, and that I was more than capable to help them. However, women who came into the store often had a face of reassurance when they saw me, which was motivating. I had come from a position of having to learn the lingo myself, so passing it on to others in the same boat – or car – was something I enjoyed. I found that a main issue in the shop was the ability to talk to customers and explain what was happening to their cars in terms and language that was easy to understand or on a ‘beginner level’ if you will, not language filled with jargon. Because of this, I ran a women’s night at the shop. Each guest received a handout I had made using that same easy to read language, which I had the mechanics check it was technically correct. The event made our existing customers more confident to come back into the shop.
What is your biggest achievement within the automotive industry, personal or professional?
Denise: At one point we were ranked as the 7th best store in the Midas network and we were the only branch at the time that was run by a woman. I also enjoyed being on the board of the TACC (the Tasmanian branch of the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce - VACC). I loved being able to look into the operation and opportunities of the TAFE and apprentice courses, always seeing how we could provide more opportunities and improve.
Do you have a favourite resource as a woman working in the automotive industry? Maybe a book, event, organization, mentor, or online platform?
Denise: A book – called Cars for Dummies – sounds basic but it was good for me and sometimes we’d show pages to customers as well. Another book I really enjoyed was – something like ‘auto repairs for women’ – I can’t quite remember the title, but the actual book was amazing.
Who is your inspiration as a female in automotive?
Denise: The new owner of the Midas store I once owned – Chris Bird. He has really been a great person to work with.
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?
Denise: Find the good things. There will be negative encounters (like a customer not believing that you’re the boss), but there will be others who will leave only good and positive encounters – those are the ones you need to focus on.
If you would like to find out more about Denise's life coaching business, head to https://www.dmtapping.com/