By Kym Clark
Western Sydney’s Louise Azzopardi is an award-winning Heavy Vehicle Mechanic who loves the job that gets her out of an office and into a hands on role. She thrives on using her problem solving skills to find solutions, but has had to learn what it’s like working in a non-traditional role. We think she’s got it down pat now!
Heavy vehicle mechanic
What is it about your role you enjoy the most?
Every day is different, nothing ever breaks the same! The work is hands on and you’re always problem-solving, and there are a lot of different pathways I can now take.
What attracted you to the role / industry initially?
I was drawn to the fact that I could learn and earn money by doing an apprenticeship. Growing up on a farm I had always been hands on and I could not see myself sitting at a desk all day.
What’s something many people wouldn’t know about your role or workplace?
You need to have a very wide range of knowledge to do the work. With new technology coming in we need to understand that, as well as all the older systems that are still very common.
Have you faced any challenges in your role? If so what and how did / are you overcoming it?
Yes I have, mostly with being young and my desire to fit in got in the way of my work quality. I had my mum tell me to pull my head in a couple of times but I had to work it out for myself and set my priorities straight. In recent years I have turned to my friends in the SALT program (Supporting and Linking Tradeswomen) for advice and support on issues that have come up.
What advice would you give to someone looking at a role similar to yours?
I would say to give it go, but if you’re going to do it you need to give 100% of your energy to it. Dont let anyone distract you from your goal.
What traits, skills or qualifications are needed to perform your role?
I needed to complete a four-year apprenticeship and to do that I needed to be hard working, a good listener and have good problem solving skills.
Are you a minority in your workplace?
Yes I am, most of the time I’m okay with it but the main issue I have had recently is that I get asked so many times about being a female mechanic – it gets a bit frustrating. I don’t mind answering people’s question but once its the 4th time in the day you get a bit over it.
Any other wins, challenges, experiences or pieces of wisdom that you’d like to share?
Take every opportunity that comes your way. You might be scared but give it your all and you will get the rewards! In 2016 I was the first female to compete in the Australian Worldskills National Heavy Vehicle Mechanics Competition and I then took out Gold. In the coming weeks will be the 2018 National comp and there will be another female competitor!