Women at the Wheel: From oilpatch to oil changes

Written by: Russell Purcell (Driving.ca - September 10, 2015)

Mechanically-inclined Molly Grayson can help diagnose an engine problem.

VANCOUVER — Molly Grayson has always had a love affair with automobiles.

In fact, her interest was so strong that at one point the mechanically-inclined woman was on a career path to become a mechanic.

Prior to her entry into the automotive industry, Grayson was working as a waitress, but knew she wouldn’t be happy waiting tables for the long term.

Looking for a career change, she spotted an advertisement for training in the field of mechanics and figured it could be a wise choice, given the fact she always liked to work with her hands.

“I thought that being a mechanic would be interesting enough to hold my attention,” Grayson said with a sly smile. “And having that knowledge would serve me well in the future, even if I didn’t pursue it as a career.

“I always see people broken down on the side of the road and odds are pretty good that their problem is probably a simple fix,” she continued. “I never wanted to be in that situation and decided that if I became a mechanic, I would be equipped to solve those problems for myself.”

Shortly after Grayson had completed the first year of her apprenticeship program, however, something else caught her eye.

Like many young Canadians, the young woman headed to the oilpatch looking for new opportunities.

“Unfortunately, it is rather costly to go to school,” Grayson said after a moment of reflection, “and I wasn’t making enough money at the time to support myself and cover all my bills. My father had worked in the oilpatch for years, so when he called me and offered me a job that paid pretty well, I moved to Alberta and tried my hand at various things for awhile.”

After a pit-stop in Vernon, a period of adventure in New Zealand and a second tour in the patch, the young mother returned to the Lower Mainland looking for new opportunities and a slower pace because she now had a daughter to raise.

“When I returned to the Vancouver area, I was on maternity leave,” Grayson said with a big smile, “but when it came time to go back to work, I had to decide what I wanted to do.”

After a little exploring, she still had an interest in automobiles and because she knows them so well, the determined fledgling mechanic set her sights on that sector.

She landed at OpenRoad Hyundai in Langley, where she works as a service adviser.

“I have somewhat of an advantage over many people in this position, as due to my earlier training as a mechanic I know how an engine works and, in fact, have a pretty good understanding of most things mechanical or technical when it comes to cars.”

Grayson has been with the OpenRoad Auto Group for six years and her customers at OpenRoad Hyundai no doubt appreciate her ability to thoroughly explain what is either wrong, or right, with their precious automobiles.

“I will admit that I was a little rusty at first,” the 32-year old said from the comfort of her chair, “as during the 11-year period that I was off doing other things, a lot had changed on the automotive side of things.

“There are so many more computers and technological advances incorporated into their design and I recognized that building a working knowledge base of these new features is going to take some time.”

Fortunately, she added, “Most of the mechanical stuff is the same, or at least similar, to what I had previously worked on as an aspiring mechanic.”

“And Hyundai does a great job of providing us with the necessary training required for us to get a handle on new products as they come in.”

The technicians at OpenRoad Hyundai have come to appreciate having her on staff, too, because if and when the service department becomes overly busy, she is able to help alleviate some of the workload by performing oil changes in the shop.

“I am more than happy to jump right in there and get my hands dirty in an effort to reduce a backlog and help the shop work more efficiently. And performing an oil change is far from rocket science.

“Just the other day, we were so overbooked that I had to step in and help out a woman who had come in for an oil change at the end of the day. After I completed the service, I spent some time with her to explain a few other things that her car required in the near future and helped alleviate any concerns she had about the health of her car. She was on her way in no time and the technicians were free to get the larger and more crucial jobs done.”

While Grayson is happy in her current position, she will admit that the future is always going to be bright for those individuals considering pursuing a career as an automotive technician.

“The reality is that we will always need trained mechanics to help fix our cars. With each new model they are getting more complicated, as safety and electronic features rely more and more on computers.

“The image of mechanics being up to their elbows in grease is long gone as the technical knowledge required to work on the modern automobile is long and involved, but I think women are well suited for it, and I may even decide to continue down that path and complete the training in the future.”

 

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