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Celebrating our Women

By Amanda | 08-03-2018

An insight into a forward thinking company

 In contrast to the predominately male dominated industry in which it operates, currently 21% of Arrow Self Drive’s personnel is female; several of which hold senior management positions and take a leading role in driving the company forward.

At Arrow, women employees are intrinsic to the company and its development. Over the past few years, under the leadership of our MD James Hill, Arrow has increased the number of female employees significantly across all areas of their workforce. Most recently we recruited our first ever female mechanic, bringing the percentage of women in our workforce up to 21%. In addition, women are now in management positions and taking a leading role in moving the company forward.

In a role traditionally taken by men, valeter/driver Sandie Wood, 56, took the job at Arrow after she had done a similar one at Arriva and was made redundant. So how did she end up as a driver and valeter in the first place? Sandie admits that she has nurtured an interest in vehicles since she was a child. She comments, ’”As a kid I liked trucks which isn’t really a girlie thing is it? Through my teenage years I loved to ride on the back of my brother’s motorbike and secretly yearned for my own bike. I juggled jobs in my twenties working as a barmaid and at the British Car Auctions as a driver. Working in bars armed me with people skills and an ability to handle men.. When I went back to full time work I decided to steer away from bars and get a proper nine to five role, so I went back to doing what I loved, driving. I really do enjoy working with men as opposed to women.”

Nicky Armitage, 43, manages the Bradford depot and a team of four men. She runs a tight ship and has excellent organisational skills. Nicky has worked for Arrow Self Drive for five years and started as an assistant in the fledgling Leeds depot. “At first I came on board to help start the new depot but within six months I was pretty much left to run things myself. Within two years I was officially given the title of manager. I absolutely love my job. I love the challenge of being a woman in a male environment. I did once try another job working in a parts department but I didn’t like it, it didn’t give me anywhere near the job satisfaction that I have here, I need to be constantly challenged to keep me going and this job gives me that and more.“

Another female manager who launched a new depot is Louise Ramsbottom, 49, manager of Barnsley branch. This year Louise celebrates ten years working for the Company. Louise is a true Barnsley lass with a dry sense of humour and no fuss approach. Louise started working as a part time rental assistant at the Wakefield depot in 2007. When The Company bought Darton Van Hire in Barnsley the following year she was asked to become the manager at the new depot. The depot was soon after moved to the existing site in October 2009 and 10 years on Louise is still serving the Barnsley community in her own unique style.

Louise reflects, “The motor trade has given me so much confidence in myself. In this male environment you have to be able to take some stick and give it back, you do have to have some balls to succeed I have learnt. I’ve always been confident but my experiences in this industry have really helped develop me and my skillset, resulting in a more robust me.”

Louise has been in the motor trade all her life. She began as an administrator for Harrats Nissan aged 28 then later moved into servicing for Dixons Nissan and Hazeldon VW. Later in life as her daughter grew up she was promoted to supervisor for sales at Dixons. During these years Louise was building and acquiring new levels of customer service excellence.” I am all about customer service, “ She explains, “When I worked in servicing I used to love it when we got an unhappy customer, swearing and shouting and threatening all sorts. I saw it as a challenge to see how I could apply my skills to calm the customer down and achieve a positive outcome. I believe that if you give your customers great service, provide a happy smiling team then your customers will keep coming back whatever business you are in.”

Three years ago the Company recruited their first Marketing Executive in the form of Amanda Crowther, 54. Amanda had previously concentrated on Arts marketing and the motor trade was a completely new departure for her. She explains, “ When I came for the job interview I was very impressed with the MD and saw that the position offered me a chance to make a difference to the Company and help its growth. In the past four years I have grown to love this company and my knowledge of it has expanded very quickly. I realise that I still have so much more to learn but that is part of the attraction. I am big on personal development and can see how this job has helped me grow. It took a while for me to earn my stripes as it were, I did encounter some resistance but four years down the line and for the most part I find that I am trusted and respected as much as anyone else here. The have got used to me and my bright ideas. The support from my MD has proven unwavering and invaluable. Of all the jobs I have had, this one is the best yet. Long may it continue.”

The newest female to join the Arrow Self Drive family is 19 year old apprentice mechanic Katy Bushell. Katy joins the company at the very end of a three year apprenticeship organised through her local college. Katy is quiet, unassuming and yet assertive. She explains how she ended up wearing overalls and knee deep in engine oil. “ I’ve always had a thing about cars. A family friend owned a garage and from the age of six I used to spend my weekends hanging out there. My dad loves cars, he’s a bit of a tinkerer, and my Mum works making motor sports harnesses for racing cars so I guess it’s in my blood.. I know for some people it’s unusual to see a woman doing this job but it’s all I ever wanted to do. I was the only girl in my class at college, I am the only girl here. It doesn’t bother me at all, in fact it’s usually the guys who don’t quite know how to approach me. Of course there is always lots of banter when you work alongside a team of men, especially Yorkshire men, but very little fazes me. I really like working on the vehicles, diagnosing the faults, finding out how to fix them. I get great satisfaction out of problem solving and enjoy finding out how things work. As for the dirt, well, yesterday I had loads of oil in my hair but I didn’t care, I enjoy getting grubby, that is just the kind of girl I am!”

James Hill, Managing Director at Arrow Self Drive commented:

“The motor trade is an industry traditionally dominated by men, but at Arrow Self Drive, one Yorkshire’s leading contract hire companies, women employees are intrinsic to the company and its development. We strive to be leaders within our field and with many females now entering into STEM careers it is important to us to do as much as we can to facilitate the growth and development of young professionals in the automotive industry."



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