Speedway Sparks Katie’s Career
As a young girl, Katie Sole always enjoyed doing things with her hands. But it was when she got the opportunity to race ministocks in the youth division at Meeanee Speedway that a career in the automotive industry really sparked her interest. “I was only racing for a couple of seasons while at school, but the experience was life-changing,” says Katie. “The speedway is really where it all started and my love for all things automotive grew from there.”
However, Katie was initially hesitant in pursuing an automotive career due to the perception of the industry as being male-dominated. But her trepidation was short-lived. “At first I thought to myself that, being a woman, there was no way I could actually do this for a job,” says Katie. “But then I thought – no, why not! It was a scary decision to make but I knew I didn’t want to be stuck behind a desk all day. So, I decided to try an automotive pre-trade course and see how I went. I absolutely loved it and I’ve never looked back.”
I wanted to get qualified so that I’d have the recognition of my skills, knowledge and experience
After completing a Certificate in Automotive and Mechanical Engineering, Katie found employment working for her uncle, where she spent a year learning to weld at his garage door business. But her automotive career beckoned and, after returning to Hawke’s Bay, she began an apprenticeship at Autotech Vehicle Maintenance.
Now 21 years old, she is thriving and is half-way to completing a National Certificate in Motor Industry (Automotive Electrical and Mechanical Engineering) with strand in Light Vehicle (Levels 3 and 4) through MITO. “I wanted to get qualified so that I’d have the recognition of my skills, knowledge and experience - plus the ability to earn more money!” says Katie.
With a yearning for learning, Katie always enjoys stepping up to a challenge and continually strives to improve herself. It was an attribute that workshop supervisor, Tony Edmonds, noticed when he hired her.
“I could see Katie had plenty of potential and was extremely keen,” says Tony. “So it was a pretty easy decision to take her on as an apprentice – and it has worked out perfectly! She’s very good at her job and always willing to learn and take on new, often difficult, challenges too. I’ve been in the industry for 40 years so have witnessed quite a few apprentices in my time – and Katie would have to be one of the best I’ve ever seen.”
It’s high praise for Katie and it’s obviously a successful team dynamic for the both of them. “Tony’s awesome,” says Katie. “I can ask him questions at any time and he’s really patient. Plus, it’s just the two of us in the workshop so I’m really lucky as I get all his attention. I’m learning a lot from him – he’s a very good mechanic.”
Katie would encourage others in the industry to consider becoming qualified. “Just go ahead and give it a shot. You’re working anyway, so you’re actually already doing the tasks. Why not get qualified at the same time – and get paid to do it?”
Outside of work, you’ll still find Katie tinkering with cars, although she admits it has taken a back seat lately since the recent purchase of her first home with her building apprentice partner. “It’s a bit of a doer-upper,” laughs Katie, “so most of our weekends are spent renovating – there’s an awful lot to do!”
Then again, Katie’s not one to shy away from a challenge.