A day in the life of a Technical Trainer featuring Katie Grey at Thatcham Research

We recently caught up with Katie Grey from Thatcham Research, to hear more about 'a day in the life of' a Technical Trainer.

Katie explains more about her typical working day and gives insight into what inspired her to pursue her current role. She urges women not to give up and to make people aware that they want to progress, in order to get the most out of their career.

Katie also explains why it's important for the automotive industry to have a more diverse gender mix.

Read Katie's full interview below.

What is your job role?

I am the Product and Delivery Director at Dealer Auction, so I look after the strategy and roadmap for the development of features and capabilities on our platform. I am also responsible for ensuring that we understand what our key milestones are in terms of what we need to get live as a business and keep us on track. I do this working alongside our product lead, our delivery lead, and the wider business teams. I am also a member of the leadership team, so I get the opportunity to support our people across the business and help the growth of our culture.

What does your typical working day look like?

6.15am -My typical day starts at 6.15am when my alarm goes off. I am most defiantly not a morning person, so my first job is to get coffee, all be it decaf. I live with my 2 children and our 2 cats. Once I have fed the cats, I have my morning shower, get dressed, and make sure the kids are awake. At 14 and 16 you would think they would have mastered the morning routine by now, but alas they still need prompting.

7.45am- I am ready to leave the house and my commute to work usually takes around 30 minutes. This is a good time to put on some music and have some me time. To forget about if the kids have everything they need, it's too late by now anyway, and do not yet think about work.

8.15am- Upon arrival at work, I get another, decaf coffee from the vending machine and head to my desk. I say good morning to my fellow colleagues and open my laptop. I teach both commercial courses and apprentice groups so depending on what course I have on depends on what happens that day. No two days are the same.  I make sure I have the required paperwork for the day, workbooks, register, and car keys for any vehicles I will be using as part of the course. I then head to the classroom I will be using and make sure I have everything I need, in terms of stationery and resources.

9am- We welcome the delegates/apprentices in ready to start. I teach a range of topics from electric and hybrid vehicles, ADAS, and geometry to removing trim/panels and electrical testing. We usually start with a classroom session. We explain what is going to happen that day and what we intend to cover theory-wise. When we stop for a break it's off to the coffee machine and a quick catch-up with colleagues or emails before back to the theory training.

12oclock- For lunch, we head to the Mezzio. We take our delegates with us, and the trainers all have lunch together. We are spoiled at Thatcham in terms of the food they create. There are always lovely cakes and bakes on the display counter to tempt you. After eating the trainers all head back to our office, where we then have time to catch up on emails, speak to colleagues and at times even have a quick quiz.

1pm- After lunch, we are back to training, in a classroom or in one of the workshop areas. This is where we are able to bring the theory to reality and learners are able to be hands-on.

2.30pm A quick afternoon break allows time for a run to the coffee machine (as you can tell I like coffee), a quick sort out of resources, or an email catch-up. We then continue our training session. This may involve a practical assessment or exam depending on the course I am teaching.

4pm – This is when we usually finish our training for the day but this is not the end of my working day. I use this time to prep anything required for the next day, which usually involves a trip to the photocopier, and a catch up with colleagues on any issues.

4.45pm- The drive home usually takes about 40minutes due to traffic but this, like the morning commute, is a great time to not have to think about work or home. Just have some me time with the music on or a good podcast.

5.25pm Upon arrival home I will check in with my children about their day, grab a quick coffee, and then it is straight out the door again to take my son to football training. On the days he does not train I get to spend some time in the kitchen cooking dinner, on the days he does train, I am very fortunate my daughter can cook and likes to do so. Honey chicken with sticky rice is defiantly one of her best dishes.

8pm Time to sit down with the final coffee of the day. This is usually the point where one of the children lets me know they need something sorted for the next day. After sorting any last-minute bits out, it is time to relax and find something to watch on the Telly.

Who or what inspired you to pursue your current role?

I never planned to get into teaching. My mum used to work in a school and I always said it was something I would never do. I knew from about the age of 10 that I wanted to work with cars. My brother had taken a course in agricultural engineering and used to spend my evenings and weekend with him fixing things. When I was 11 we moved to a little village and there wasn’t much to do. A friend from the village used to race stock cars and so my weekends would then be spent with him fixing his car and going to races. When I finished school, I went to my local college and completed a motorsport engineering course. I worked in the motor vehicle industry for a while but took some time out when I had my children. It was then that I started looking at the teaching route as the hours were more family-friendly. I ended up working back at my local college teaching vehicle courses and getting my lecturing qualifications. After a whilst I decided to branch out and took a job teaching maths and physics at a local SEN school. There are a lot of links between mechanics and physics. I got my QTLS status but really missed working with cars. A technical trainer role became available at Thatcham and I decided to apply for the role.

What advice would you give to a woman wanting to progress in the automotive industry? 

Firstly, do not give up There will be doors closed in your face but if that happens find another route. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. So, if you do not get what you want the first time then it was not meant for you right now. Better things are coming. You also need to make sure people are aware you want to progress. If you do not speak up, then people will not know. Regardless of your gender everyone has different qualities and attributes. A good employer will look for these instead of when sex you are.

Why do you think it is important for the automotive industry to have a better diverse gender mix?

Everyone has something different to bring. People’s skill sets are different and using these skills in collaboration is what makes a strong work team. Having a diverse mix of people can stop stale repetitive ideas and practices. It helps keep a company fresh and innovative. Growing up I did not see many women in the automotive industry but as time has gone on, I see more and more women in different roles. When I was at college, I was the only female on my automotive course. Over the years the numbers have slowly increased, and I think that younger people seeing women in these roles inspires them to consider new options and jobs they may have not thought about.

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