International Women's Day 2022: An Interview with Tracey Taylforth
To celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day, we’re catching up with some of the most inspiring women across the automotive industry.
The International Women’s Day 2022 theme is #BreakTheBias, and we want to find out what that means for some of the influential women within the industry while celebrating their achievements and successes.
Today, we caught up with Tracey Taylforth, our Group Motability Manager.
With 15 years’ experience within the automotive industry, Tracey has a wealth of automotive knowledge under her belt, which has ultimately led to some outstanding achievements, which includes receiving the prestigious Outstanding Contribution award, from Motability, in 2020.
Read on to discover more about Tracey’s success and find out what #BreakTheBias means for her.
What does a typical day in your job role look like?
"My role is very wide-reaching, and I get involved in all aspects of Motability for the Group. That could include sales manager training, piloting new marketing campaigns, a call with our dealership general managers on Motability Scheme changes or meeting with one of our dealerships – by Teams or Zoom at the moment but looking forward to visiting face to face again in the future. I work closely with our Scheme partners, Motability Operations, too, because having the largest Motability fleet in the UK means there is a lot to keep me busy."
How long have you worked in the automotive industry?
"15 years in July. I had just come to the end of my maternity leave with my second child, Georgia, and an opportunity came up at my local Land Rover dealership to supply cover for their Marketing Manager on a part-time basis. This seemed perfect, having studied Marketing at university years earlier. Little did I know that the automotive sector would turn out to be one of the most infectious I had worked for. I was very lucky; this independent dealership was owned and run by a young and talented businessman, who helped me build a sound foundation of knowledge and experience. This part-time role quickly turned into a full-time, permanent position, and before I knew it, I was hooked!"
Have you always wanted to work in the automotive industry, or did you start out in another sector?
"No, I’ve not always worked in the automotive industry. In fact, it has been quite varied. My first role was as a Distribution Manager for a manufacturer of ladies' bras and lingerie. At the time, this industry was dominated by females - from designers and garment technologists to the rows of machinists and garment packers. Cost was becoming a big pressure on the industry, with the high street looking to drive down its prices, and it became almost impossible to remain competitive whilst manufacturing in the UK, and so the business turned to the more competitively produced garments from the Far East. My role was to manage a team that was involved in the packing and store picking for delivery to the high street. With over 250,000 units of stock at one time, it meant we needed to operate a slick operation.
"So, from underwear to soft drinks... I told you it was varied! My role was as an Operations Team Leader at one of the best-known soft drink manufacturers in the UK. The organisation had gone through a restructuring process, and I joined as part of the new management structure. Initially, I managed a team that ran a pre-mix production line and, later, a full returnable glass production line and the mixing room. As I joined the organisation, I was not an expert in soft drinks (far from it!) but I was a good manager who could lead a team. I was prepared to learn and was never afraid to ask a question. This environment was so different from what I had known previously as it was incredibly male dominated - in fact, only two females were in the entire management team. I imagine things will have changed there now."
What’s your biggest career achievement to date?
"This is probably being awarded an Outstanding Contribution award early 2020 from Motability. I know there have only been a handful of these awards presented over the years so to receive one meant so much. I see so many talented colleagues with many years of experience within our Group, so receiving this prestigious award has got to be the highlight of my career and my biggest achievement yet."
What’s the best part about your job?
"I think it’s having the freedom to help. Whether that’s supporting one of my colleagues on how to become Motability accredited, offering advice and support on how a branch can make the most out of their Motability opportunity or working with our partners at Motability to make the Motability Scheme a better choice for our mutual customers. I see all my colleagues and business partners as my customers and it’s important to me to look after and support them, much how a sales executive would look after a customer when buying their latest car."
What progress do you think has been made within the automotive industry concerning gender equality?
"When I was at school, I studied Motor Vehicle Engineering and I was one of only two girls in the school to select that as an option... looking back this was probably a high intake year! I remember venturing off to the Motor Show, in Birmingham, and to the local scrap yard! I see more and more females take up roles within the automotive industry - awesome General Managers, Service Advisors, Apprentices and Sales Executives - but feel there is still room to go. By offering more flexible working to create a sustainable work-life balance and more apprenticeship programmes encouraging young females into the sector with prospects of a long-term career, I feel this could help."
What advice would you give young women who are wanting to pursue a career within the automotive industry?
"Do it. There are so many opportunities for career progression within a variety of areas in the business - Sales, Marketing, Aftersales, IT and Accounts to name a few. It’s also important to choose the right business. I am very lucky that I work for a business that lives by its core values and this sits well with me."
This year’s IWD theme is #BreakTheBias. What does that mean for you?
"I have two children, a boy and a girl both in their teens, both moving rapidly through education heading towards what I hope are exciting futures. Where will their future choices take them? What industry will they work in? Will they enjoy their chosen career? The answers to these questions will become evident over time. I sincerely hope that both my children, through hard work, talent and commitment, will be given opportunities to succeed and flourish on their chosen paths regardless of their gender. That they are in a place where their differences are celebrated and valued equally."