Rebecca: Welcome Hannah, it’s nice to have you here today with us.
Hannah: Great to be here. Thank you for having me on.
Rebecca: The one thing I was really worried I was going to say wrong was your company name but I think I sort of nailed it.
Hannah: That’s fine, it sounded great.
Rebecca: I love that in your Twitter bio you say you’re changing the face of car repair. With this theme of break the bias this year for International Women’s Day, what does that actually mean to you? How are you changing the face of car repair?
Hannah: It’s something I’m hugely passionate about. I’ve been in and around the car industry for over 15 years as a mechanic and I just recently bought another business out, so I’m going more into the business side of things. I really want to promote the car industry, specifically the car repair industry, and try and change people’s perception of it. I realise that the reputation that follows the car industry is quite bad and there are a lot of really good car repair workshops that are very honest, who are completely trustworthy of doing a really great job, but there are also ones that aren’t. For me the whole quote of changing the car industry is about my vision and mission is where I want to buy a lot of car repair businesses and really put the customer first. So it’s changing how we view the car repairs and we actually put the customer at the forefront of that. We try and make it easy for them. At the garage I own at the moment we offer collection, delivery, and people book online, so it’s all how can we make it easy for the customer so they’re not dreading getting their car repaired. It’s all surrounding that.
Rebecca: Going all of the way back, why did you decide you wanted to be a mechanic in the first place?
Hannah: It was ingrained in me a bit. None of my family are petrolheads. I don’t know if I was swapped at birth. No I’m joking, I wasn’t. I just love cars. Even growing up I loved the sound of them. Just everything about cars fascinates me. If we went out and got toys as a child, I’d want cars, I had a car playmat. I then started helping out down a local garage and I found that I picked up the car repair quite quickly. So I don’t actually have a qualification in car repair, it’s all been learnt from when I was young as a child and growing up and just learning on the job. I found that was the best way for me to learn, and it’s all just stemmed from there really. I picked it up really quick, I enjoy it, I love that the car industry offers so many potential avenues to go down. It’s a career that’s kept me interested throughout my whole working career.
Rebecca: That’s so interesting because it’s quite unconventional but great to hear. Do you ever find it challenging as a woman in that environment?
Hannah: I was really lucky. I worked in a small village independent garage, quite sheltered from a lot of potential issues. I never felt like I was different. I was just one of the lads and I enjoyed working with the guys. I’ve always, every single job I’ve ever had it’s always been working around men in a male dominated industry so I’m quite used to it. I know there have been women who have found issues with it, so that makes my path seem quite fortunate really. I’ve had some amazing opportunities that I’ve got a lot of guys to thank for those opportunities. But I think as a whole, the car industry has quite a bad reputation with women and how they potentially operate and bits like that. From my point of view and my journey, I’ve never had any issues.
Rebecca: Do you think it’s changed as well, the attitudes towards women working in the industry?
Hannah: I think because I haven’t come across any issues then I haven’t seen a change as such because I’ve always been quite welcomed by workplaces and things like that. I think a lot of workplaces do actually quite like having a female on board, it offers a bit of diversity. It offers new suggestions, skills, different ways of doing things. I’ve always found it better to have a mixture of male and female because we offer different things moving forward for a business. But I do think the car industry is changing, it’s not seen as, you don’t get those backstreet garages as much, where they’re dirty and have that male stereotype behaviour. You don’t really get that as much. There’s definitely a change in it and I think it’s definitely becoming more of an inclusive workplace for people to go into.
Rebecca: So diving a bit more into your passion for cars, you’ve got a 911, right?
Hannah: Yes, a Porsche 911, I do.
Rebecca: Anyone who follows you on social media will see you driving around in that. You do quite a few road trips in it as well.
Hannah: I bought that Porsche 911, there’s actually some YouTube videos of it because I bought that for under £5,000. So it’s known as the under £5000 911. I bought it with a blown up gearbox so it did need to have a bit of work but it wasn’t something I intended on buying, it came up as a bit of a deal, so I bought it before anyone else bought it and I take it everywhere. Porsches always run better used. I always tell customers to use their cars, particularly Porsches, they always seem to prefer being used constantly so I try and use it most weeks. It runs perfectly. I take it to Goodwood although it can’t go on track because it’s a little bit noisy, but I’m hoping to take it over to Europe this year and do some proper road trips. It’s just a really nice car to drive.
Rebecca: And what is it about it that fits in with your lifestyle so well?
Hannah: It’s easy to drive! It’s my only car that’s got heated seats and an automatic gearbox, which isn’t what most people buy a Porsche for, the automatic gearbox, but it’s just I’ve always wanted a car like that and to have one that’s cheaper than a normal Ford Focus is ridiculous. It’s just nice to get it out and about, I take my brother out in it and we go driving. I just love driving it, I love the sound of it and I think it is quite a visceral car, with the sound of it, the drive of it, is really quite nice.
Rebecca: If you could take it on a road trip anywhere, where would you want to go?
Hannah: I’m planning on doing Europe this year, so the plan is through France, Switzerland, Italy and then back again. Maybe back through Belgium, up towards the Nurburgring and Germany, and bits like that. So I think, obviously through Covid and a few years of not really doing much, it’s nice to be able to. All of the road trips have been saved up so it’s about getting to experience that and take it to Europe really.