A RECIPE FOR SUCCESS: CHELSEA BOWERS
Chelsea Bowers’ automotive journey hasn’t been straight forward, but her commitment and passion has seen her become an inspiration for apprentices just like her
Australasia’s largest automotive cooperative, Capricorn, was proud to announce Queenslander Chelsea Bowers as its 2023 Capricorn Rising Star recently.
In 2022, Chelsea – who works for John Edwards Automotive in Geebung – was a Top Five Finalist in the prestigious competition which recognises talented apprentices who show initiative, thirst for knowledge and commitment to the automotive industry.
In 2023, the Brisbane born and raised talent has been celebrated as its overall winner.
“I was incredibly humbled to win the Capricorn Rising Stars competition. I feel as though my boss and co-workers have supported me throughout my whole apprenticeship and were pushing me to be the best version of myself. I have gone for this award a few times, making it to top five last year, so this year felt really unreal. I am very blessed,” Chelsea said.
The path to success for Chelsea has been far from easy, but her resilience and commitment to the trade she loves has held her in good stead.
“I have always had an interest in cars ever since I was little, however my passion bloomed when I was 16 and bought my first car: my 1970 VW beetle,” Chelsea said.
“I found working on it set me on my pathway to a hands-on career. I started thinking more seriously about taking on a trade in grade 12, when I had to make the decision about if I wanted to go to university or not, and which school subjects would set me up for my chosen career path.
“I started my school-based apprenticeship that year, taking every Wednesday off and working alongside a brilliant mentor who taught me so much
“Unfortunately, I did end up leaving, as to be completely candid, I was bullied out of my job, and I suffered with a lot of depression and anxiety in that workplace.
“I really felt that I wasn’t good enough to be a tradie. When I left, I turned to online university whilst working my part-time job at the local roller skating rink on weekends. I studied biology, psychology, and philosophy. I loved the content and seemed to be alright with the workload, but I found myself constantly wishing I was back in the workshop.
“I ended up restoring a 1968 Buick Skylark with my two close friends in my spare time and I found that my passion was still there, and I knew it was what I was meant to do and that I really thrived in that environment.
“So, I had a holiday in America and had time to think about what I wanted to do when I came back, and that’s when I made the decision that I wasn’t finished with the trade, and I would come back and finish my apprenticeship.
“This is when I found John at Bosch and the rest is history. I love my job more than ever and I have never once felt out of place. We shared the same values of honesty and communication.
“As I re-entered the trade, I met a few women in all different trades who had gone through exactly what I had gone through and had a whole network of tradeswomen I could turn to.
“Everything I went through got me to where I am now. It has taught me resilience, both mental and physical strength, passion and most importantly, the drive to share my story so no one ever feels as though they need to go through the same thing.”
Chelsea said that coming from a humble workshop has accelerated her growth and provided great benefits as an automotive apprentice.
“Being in a small workshop, I feel as though I’m very involved and included in my work for any job that comes along. I like to put myself out of my comfort zone and choose to do difficult jobs so I can learn quickly and accurately,” Chelsea said.
“I also do a lot of external training outside of work hours that can help improve my knowledge and confidence. I like to network on behalf of my workplace so I can expand my people skills and get comfortable talking to people so I can communicate with my customers at work on a more personal and relatable level.”
“I love that every day is a different challenge and a different opportunity to learn something new. Something that keeps me going when times get difficult, is thinking about how far I’ve come in my journey and how I can use my story to inspire the next generation of people looking to get into the automotive trade.
“I’m very grateful to be in a positive workplace that appreciates me, and we can all get along and help each other out with anything.”
Through her apprenticeship, Chelsea has built strong connections with her customers and is dedicated to providing personalised service.
“One of our regular customers runs a not-for-profit women’s shelter. We have a very strong, trusting relationship with these people. Every time they come in, our hearts break hearing the stories they tell us about what they go through,” Chelsea said.
“When they bring their car in to our workshop, we stock the boot with donated nappies, sanitary items, soaps, toilet paper, shampoos and conditioners, and anything else they need at the time as a thank-you for helping those in need.
“It’s only a small gesture but it does go a long way. We make sure the women who come into their care who have cars are well looked after as well with their car services and maintenance needs.”
When asked about her long-term goal, Chelsea shared, “I have a vision that one day I will own the workshop I am currently employed in, and I have my apprentices that I closely mentor.
“My long-term goals that accompany this vision is running hands-on workshops at schools teaching basic car maintenance and safety, as well as encouraging students to consider a trade in automotive as their first career option post-school.
“I am very passionate about the next generation of tradies who will soon dominate the industry… I look forward to continuing to break the stigma of what the image of a mechanic looks like in people’s minds.
“I didn’t have much external encouragement when I was considering joining the trade so if I am able to inspire or encourage any women to take on a trade and make it through their apprenticeship, I would be honoured.
“I want to be the person to other women that I wish I had when I was struggling in my old workplace. I want to be there for lady tradies who need that mentoring to help them get through the obstacles they will face in their training.”
Clearly a high achiever now and into the future, Chelsea has some key advice to share with those looking to start out in the industry today.
“I have learnt an incredible number of lessons over my time in the industry, but my most important piece of advice I could give anyone is to know your worth,” Chelsea said.
“If you are in a job you love but the people are not up to your standard, leave. Find somewhere who will appreciate you and the effort you make. Take pride in yourself, your time, your skills, your property. Just because that workplace isn’t made for you, doesn’t mean that you’re not made for the job.
“Another little tip for finding your first workplace is knowing the two most important parts of job seeking: the interview and to do some work experience, even if it is only a few days.
“An interview is a two-way conversation about what you can get out of the workplace. Have a resume and a list of questions you want to ask ready to go.
“The work experience is to show that you are committed to find your place in the industry and see if the workplace will be a good fit for you. As well as to meet any other staff members and get to know their view on the workplace too.”
According to the owner of John Edwards Automotive, Sam Lawson, Chelsea is not only an advocate for women in trades but serves as an inspiration for future generations.
To learn more about the Capricorn Rising Stars program, visit www.capricorn.coop