Real Model interview episode #27 featuring Stacey Laing, TPS Manager at JCT600 Ltd and Inspiring Automotive Women Award Winner

Stacey is an inspirational leader and cultivates an environment where colleagues feel comfortable sharing not only their progress but also their pains, without fear of judgment.

Her warm and human approach brings with it a strong feeling of community and lifts the wellbeing status of her colleagues. She puts herself forward at any opportunity to develop her own people management skills – signing up for mental health first aid training, stress management courses, wellbeing webinars during lock-down and will encourage members of her team to seek out one to one support from JCT600’s in-house resources when necessary. Stacey supports the gender balance drive by actively recruiting female apprentices supporting their qualifications at a local college and then encourages them to take on a technician role. In addition, Stacey supports the Automotive 30% Club’s outreach activities which aim to encourage female students to consider careers in the automotive industry. Stacey’s nominator added: “I’m in awe of her permanent energy and interest in others. I cannot think of another woman in our team that deserves this award more than she does.

How did you feel to be nominated by your colleagues in the Inspiring Automotive Women Awards 2020 and how did it feel to be one of our winners?

I was shocked, overwhelmed yet completely blown away and humbled by the thought that my colleagues had voted for me.  When I received the email I was on the telephone with a customer, I shrieked with excitement and had to call them back when I calmed down. 

What is your job and what does it involve? 

I am responsible for the 2 TPS Sheffield Centre’s, c/o Volkswagen Group on behalf of JCT600.  My role has recently changed to have the added responsibility of Group Parts within JCT600 outside of my normal working day responsibilities to TPS.  

So what do I do? My typical day revolves around people.  From listening to customers and their feedback then leading the teams to deliver a high level of service, right through to the general wellbeing matters of colleagues.  I spend a lot of time analysing operational performances and creating plans for improvements by delivering results through the teams.  My management style is to empower my line management team, this sometimes brings challenges around ‘time’ particularly in coaching situations but I find it extremely worthwhile for their and my own development.  It’s important for me that we grow our own future leaders/colleagues and encourage them to be accountable so they naturally feel more responsible for the result and in achieving reward.    

More recently I am now looking at JCT600’s Group Parts, this includes understanding the current, creating strategy to then start driving future performance through wider teams and colleagues. 

How long have you worked in the sector?

I started when I was 16 (26 years ago) as an Apprentice Accountant, other than 2 years in Specialist Recruitment my experience albeit very varied has been solely within the Motor Industry. 

What do you like best about your job?

The team, both the team I am responsible for, watching and helping them grow and develop but also the team I work with, my peer colleagues that drive, support and encourage me daily.  I am very fortunate to work alongside some fantastic people including our leaders, no ego’s just visionary to make positive change. 

What are your future aspirations?

Continue loving what I do, learning constantly and growing in my role to make a bigger contribution in the next few years.

Can you name a woman in automotive that inspires you and why?

Just One? No! I had the pleasure of working for TPS when Alison Jones was the head of Volkswagen Group Services.  She was incredibly inspiring at conferences, full of drive and encouragement to make a positive difference.   I have followed her career since leaving and can see why PSA Group are headlining for great things. 

I also attended a conference that Catherine Faiers headlined, she blew me away.  So natural, yet focused and driven.  You can see even from a distance the fantastic culture that Auto Trader have and how supportive they are of each other. 

A little closer to home I am very fortunate to work with exceptional female leaders/colleagues and too many to mention for this article but one I can’t go without mentioning is Katie Saunders, JCT600 HR Director.  Katie has a natural passion for people.  She drives change, commands respect for all and alongside her fellow Directors really does bring our company values to life, they aren’t just aspirational words, they are a daily behavior.  Katie is also the person responsible for bringing me back into the industry when I got disillusioned by it 12 years ago, she has continued to support me and reinstates my confidence and self-belief if and when my vulnerability has overwhelmed me.  She’s REAL and keeps it REAL for which I’ll always be grateful to her.

What makes you happy?

I love entertaining, I genuinely enjoy seeing family/friends or other people enjoying what I’ve created whether it be a party, home cooking or even charitable events.  I love fun! 

As much as I am people person I’m also at my happy place walking my dog out in nature and the countryside with no one around me other than wildlife, natural water and fields/woods.

Which word or phrase do you most overuse?

“Perspective” I am constantly considering and telling others to reflect on others’ perspectives.  My dad recently listened to one of my work calls and commented straight away.

What is your worst trait?

I can care too much and often put others & the job before the wellbeing and cost of myself, I’m really trying hard to work on self-care.  The concept of ‘it’s not selfish to put your own self-care first so others get the best of you rather than what’s left of you’ was hard for me at first but by coming to terms with personal vulnerability and accepting that sometimes ‘It just is’ is actually a healthier and happier place.  I learnt this along with lots of other skills on a JCT600 Leadership Development program with a Psychologist, Steve Mitchell.  That program really did change my life, I’m now happy being my authentic self. 

How would you like to be remembered?

As just mentioned, my authentic self.  Someone who encouraged others and makes them believe. In themselves, in their ability and using that to make a positive difference to achieve whatever you set for yourself – if you want it, there’s only yourself that’s stopping you.

What advice would you give to women who are wanting to progress in the sector?

Surround yourself with great people, find an organization that feels right for you (it’s important) then listen, learn and be open with them to allow personal growth.  My biggest tip would be to remain true to yourself throughout, don’t try and be what you perceive others want or a version of someone else.  Just be the best version of yourself, smile – you never know who is watching and oh! have fun along the way! 

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