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Unexpected pathways for future repair leaders

Career paths in the automotive industry can take diverse and unexpected courses but Fix Auto Port Melbourne’s Nick Batey shows that with the right attitude there is always new potential and interest.

Batey’s 10-year career in the automotive industry has taken him to different places but not always been the ones he might have envisaged.

He began as a young man, doing three years of an apprenticeship and followed that with multiple jobs within the industry, including with Capital SMART, RPM Somerton and Repairhub.

He even had a short stint outside the industry as a baker, but it was the love of cars and the satisfaction of working on the floor that brought him back to the repair industry.

“School hadn’t been the thing for me, so I got out and I was doing trades and trying to get a head start in life,” he says.

“Because when you’re young, you always do a bit of everything. Panel shops are normally good at this and show you around and give you a taste of what all the different jobs are, especially at Fix Auto. They want to give you a taste of everything to learn what you are good at.”

This diversity of roles has led to the all-round knowledge he believes helps him in his work as an estimator, a role where you must learn quickly, on your feet and adapt to the specific workflows of a body shop.

Fix Auto Port Melbourne works with multiple insurance companies so one of the challenges has been with a diversity of systems and programs.

“All the boys are really good here, spending time with me. We’re going through all the different programmes, all the different coding techniques.”

The constant in all these years for Batey has been a willingness to try new jobs and learn new skills.

“I’ve always had that drive to say, if I’ve got nothing to do, I’m not just going to sit here but say what’s next?” he says.

“I say, let me help one of the other boys and showing the initiative opens doors for you and makes you more versatile. You can learn more because you’re opening your mind. For example, I help a spray painter rub this car down and I think, what I have learned from that? So, it’s not just helping other people out on their jobs, it’s helping you learn all these skills too.”

He would not have guessed from his early apprenticeship days how his career has unfolded and led him to his current role as an estimator but says this is part of the satisfaction and variety of the career path. He is also optimistic about where it will lead him next.

“I can always see myself just building on those skills and using them toward whatever’s next, whether that’s a production manager role or even manager role. Whatever doors open, I’m happy to do.”

“I am always happy to learn. There’s always learning to do. It is exactly like that here (at Fix Auto). People here they have been in the trade 30-40 years and even they say they are still learning.”

He says that key to this culture of learning is a strong culture of mutual support and sharing ideas and opinions.

“We always double check with each other. It’s good because if someone misses something then someone else is looking over it, so there is always support.”

Batey singles out Chris Kane and Rob Stephens as two industry professionals at Fix Auto Port Melbourne who have mentored him.

“They have taken me under their wing and both of them have always given me all the benefit of their expertise.”

The industry has a shortage of uptake of junior talent and Batey thinks for some young people the years spent toiling at higher education may be costly and neither enjoyable nor productive.

“There’s a lot of pressure in schools to go to uni, sometimes just for the sake of it and yet there might be a lot more satisfying careers out there in the automotive industry.”

Given the career outcomes can be surprising and rewarding, Batey’s advice for young people is simple.

“You’re better off out there giving something a go and seeing if you like it. Just give it a go; you don’t know unless you try it.”

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