Wendy Williamson, Chief Executive of the IAAF


Wendy Williamson, Chief Executive of the IAAF

As a motorist, the car industry we see in dealers and garages is just part of the bigger picture. All the cars we drive and the garages we visit depend on spare parts for their servicing, repair and maintenance, so they can run safely, reliably and happily for longer.

To illustrate this behind the scenes work, we interviewed Wendy Williamson who heads up the IAAF a trade organisation that represents the best interests of its independent automotive members.

By doing this good work. the motorist is benefiting from a more competitive industry than we’d likely have if car manufacturers were allowed to favour their franchised dealers over independent businesses charging less for their expertise.

And after Wendy was recognised in the recent Autocar 100 Great British Women in Automotive Awards, we wanted to know what attracted her into this highly specialist area.

In so doing we learned that the words ‘aftermarket’ and ‘aftersales’ are industry-speak for everything that motorists buy after their new car. That means everything for our cars’ everyday servicing, repairs and maintenance including motoring oils, car parts, accessories and B2B garage equipment, products and services.
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What did you do before getting involved with the automotive industry?

I graduated with a business studies degree, specialising in marketing, and joined Black & Decker as a graduate trainee. This gave me a broad range of experience in all aspects of the marketing mix including above and below the line advertising.

What drew you into the automotive industry and how did your career start in it?

This lead me into the automotive components area of the motor industry where I specialised in truck and trailer markets until Unipart offered me a very exciting opportunity. It was a local company with a solid reputation and I became their Customer Marketing Director.

What does your job with the IAAF entail? How is this giving consumers a greater choice of motoring services?

As chief executive of the IAAF, my ultimate goal is to serve our members’ interests in a number of ways, not least in the promotion of this industry sector to government, the EU, allied trade associations and the press to secure the future of the independent automotive aftermarket.

We offer our members constant support in a variety of products and services and as IAAF represents the largest number of parts distributors and suppliers in the independent automotive aftermarket, we have total representation of the trade.

This reinforces the strength of our voice within government departments, increasing our power over legislation affecting the industry.

Most recently, we are supporting the Right2Choose campaign as under current legislation, consumers have the right to use any repair workshop for non-warranty work during the warranty period.

Through our network of members we are actively raising awareness of motorists’ freedom to choose where to have their vehicle serviced, for example.

Your recognition in the 2016 Autocar Top 100 Great British Women makes you a natural role model in the car industry. How can you use your influence to encourage ambitious young women to follow in your footsteps?

The automotive industry, particularly the aftermarket, has to work hard to attract both men and women into the sector. From independent garages to leading suppliers and manufacturers, it is important that everyone is given an equal opportunity to be considered for available roles.

There are some excellent examples of ambitious young women excelling within the industry, such as young female apprentices winning national awards, and there are also examples of young women setting up their own independent garages, which is great news.

I think vehicle manufacturers like Jaguar Land Rover have worked extremely hard in recruiting women and people from outside the industry and are a great example for the automotive industry as a whole.

I am honoured by the recent recognition I received from 2016 Autocar Top 100 Great British Women and I hope it can provide confidence to all young women who aspire to succeed within the automotive industry.

At IAAF, we continue to promote careers and opportunities that arise within our membership network to all appropriate candidates across the board.

What advice would you give talented young women who are already in the automotive industry to encourage them to apply for challenging career promotions?

You’ve got nothing to lose! It is great to see the number of women within the industry is rising and therefore there is no reason that women with the required experience and skill should not feel confident enough to aim for that next step in their career.

To achieve this, I recommend getting involved in relevant organisations or associations as networking with like-minded professionals may bring an array of new opportunities and can broaden an individual’s knowledge on specific topics.

When it comes to succeeding as a professional business person, women are just as capable as men and I urge gifted young women to never give up and have confidence in their abilities. They can achieve great things by constantly working hard, positively contributing in the workplace and never being afraid to learn something new.
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Thank you Wendy for this insight relating to your work behind the scenes to make our car servicing and repair industry a more competitive place benefiting all motorists when it comes to choice, and ultimately, better value for money.

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