Should I work in the automotive industry?

Pursuing a career in the automotive industry or any male-dominated sector is never easy but Sisonke Nkekana is up to the challenge.

False Bay TVET College talks to Nkekana about her career ambitions and what it takes to make in this field.

Sisonke Nkekana is a 25-year-old False Bay TVET College graduate ambassador. Her qualifications include matric and an Automotive Body Repair National Certificate (Vocational) NC(V) from False Bay TVET College, which helped her secure a career in the motor industry.

Here she explains more about her job as a junior service adviser at Williams Hunt in Bellville.

What does the job entail?
I’m responsible for specialised communications relating to vehicle servicing and repairs. I started out as an intern and am now a junior service adviser. My goal is to be a professional service adviser in the vehicle sales industry after a few more years of experience.

My training in automotive body repair work has been invaluable in my present position. To do body repair, you need a good understanding of mechanics, as you are responsible for the final assembly of vehicles once they have been repaired. You also need good hand-eye co-ordination, and must be reasonably strong as body repair work is very physical. For spraypainting you need a good eye for colour, and must be able to work accurately.

These are all valuable skills for a service adviser, when dealing with customers and suppliers. For instance, I find I can explain detailed repairs and servicing technicalities to customers who have no mechanical experience in a way that they understand.

Popular among her colleagues and clients, her manager at Williams Hunt says: “Sisonke is confident in her role, reliable and dependable. We enjoy having her as part of the team.”

Why did you choose this career?
I love a challenge, and the motor industry being a man’s world is certainly that. However, I find that men in the industry have a lot of respect for women who are as skilled as they are, and are keen to learn and not afraid to work hard.

What do you like most about your job?
I like the fact that I can be of real service to customers, making their workshop experience a pleasant one.

What advice can you give prospective students?
You must be prepared to work hard, and to learn continually. I’m a strong believer in swimming against the tide, taking on challenges and proving your unique value. And in any career you must be committed to service delivery.

Where did you train?
I’m originally from the Eastern Cape, and moved to Cape Town in 2004. I completed my matric in 2011 and then studied Automotive Body Repair at False Bay TVET College. I completed the 3 year programme at the Westlake Campus and was successfully placed by the Job Placement Department.

I thoroughly enjoyed the benefits of student life while at the college, and one of the highlights was being a member of the False Bay College, Student Representative Council.

I am grateful for all the additional support and extra classes provided by my lecturer, Mr Visagie. Through his commitment to each student’s success I developed resilience and a determination to excel. False Bay TVET College has given me the opportunity, understanding and skills to be able to work in a field I am passionate about.

Expected earnings: With a recent Automotive Body Repair NC(V) you can expect to earn R6 000 to R10 000 a month, and your income will increase with experience.