As a woman in a male-dominated industry it can be tough to break through the glass ceiling but one motor trade insider has been doing just that.
While it may sound clichéd, the automotive industry remains a man’s world in the eyes of many but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for strong female faces.
One such example is talented technician Chelsea George who works as a technician at a BMW preparation centre in Portsmouth run by Snows Motor Group.
The 29-year-old was born in South Africa and caught the automotive bug from her father at a young age.
When she was just ten-years-old the family moved to Britain, where she went to school on Hampshire’s Hayling Island.
During her childhood years, George helped her Dad and Uncle build a kit car and once she turned 18 she turned her passion for all things motoring into a career.
Her career began as an apprentice technician at Snows’ Seat dealership in Portsmouth, where she was twice named Apprentice of the Year.
After seven years with Seat, she moved to Snows’ neighbouring BMW operation, where she has been ever since.
Since working at the BMW site, George and her partner Alex have welcomed a young son, Alex, meaning she now combines her work life with motherhood.
She said: ‘Life is pretty hectic, I’m not going to lie! I’ve recently gone part-time but haven’t had the chance to work my new hours yet because we’ve been flat-out!’’
‘They [her employers] were very supportive. When I was pregnant, I moved to a less physical position as workshop controller and I was able to continue working into the later stages of my pregnancy.
‘They were great when I came back to work and picked everything up again, and now I’m able to work part-time in what is traditionally a full-time role.’
‘The fact I am a woman counted against me’
Despite now flourishing in the automotive industry, George initially found it tough to get a foothold in the motor trade.
After leaving school, she applied for several positions but was unsuccessful. Looking back, she says she believes her gender did play a part in that but says things are now much-improved on that front.
‘After I left school, I approached a lot of places and even at that point I had plenty of experience because I had held down a part-time job at a garage for two years,’ she said.
‘I couldn’t prove anything, of course, but I felt the fact I am a woman counted against me. Things have improved a lot since then, though.
‘I do, yes, 100 per cent [enjoy my job]. I think it’s very difficult to find a career that you enjoy.
‘Don’t get me wrong – I’d rather do other things than have to work for a living! But you can’t beat the atmosphere of a busy workshop. Everyone says that once you’re in the motor trade you can’t get out and I think that’s true.
‘I do enjoy it – I can’t see myself ever working behind a desk, for example.’
So what does she see for herself in the future? George says she is loving her current role –which involves getting cars ready for sale and display in Snows’ flagship BMW dealership a short distance away – but would one day like to work for herself.
She will soon be undergoing EV training and is hoping to continue growing her skills.
She said: ‘I’m very happy doing what I’m doing. Perhaps at some point in the future I might like to work for myself but I’m very happy at Snows right now.
‘I’m pleased to be building my skills and knowledge base – I start electric vehicle training soon – and family life keeps me occupied too, of course.
‘At the end of the day, I love my family and I love my job. Some people might describe me as a woman in a man’s world but I just think I’m one of the lads… but one who gets their hair and nails done!’