Marama Thompson, from Auto Super Shoppe Eurotech in Hamilton, New Zealand, has won the 2022 Capricorn Rising Star apprentice of the year award, marking the second consecutive year that an automotive apprentice from New Zealand has taken the top honour.
Thompson won a $5000 cash prize from major sponsor Castrol, while Auto Super Shoppe Eurotech in Hamilton received a 12-month Repco Autopedia subscription and enrolment in the Workshop Whisperer’s Service Advisor Pro online programme.
Thompson said she had always dreamed of becoming an automotive technician, working on cars, and owning her own Auto Super Shoppe workshop, equipped to do mechanical, electrical, panel beating, and painting.
“My drive is trying to figure out the whys of vehicle issues and sorting a solution to the problem, then to see it leave the workshop with a customer driving it, as opposed to seeing it arrive on a tow truck. The joy of another car fixed and roadworthy and a real happy customer makes me very proud of what I do,” Thompson said.
“My greatest accomplishment so far is being on the tools under the hood, working on cars. I have great support from my boss who is always there if ever I need help. I am still learning and I’m enjoying learning something new every day.
“One of my biggest accomplishments was being nominated for this award, let alone now having won the Capricorn Rising Stars competition. I guess I’m just living my dream, with great support behind me,” Thompson added.
Auto Super Shoppe Eurotech’s Nik Fowlie praised Thompson for her ability and work ethic.
“She is a superstar! Marama has only been with me for one and a half years and has now become my second in charge. She can fix cars and run the front of house, while also dictating workflow to the rest of the technicians.
“She always shows up early and is usually one of the last to leave. Her mechanical aptitude is the best that I have seen in my 16 years of the trade. She will become an amazing technician or service manager one day.
“Her customer service is second to none and I can feel confident that she has a handle with the customers and preparing their invoices, despite her short amount of time in the trade. She is always willing to learn and to better herself,” Fowlie added.
Thompson was selected from 341 apprentices nominated by Capricorn member businesses in Australia and New Zealand across all repair and service disciplines.
Capricorn said the competition encourages new talent into the industry and generates more qualified automotive repairers, ensuring the industry’s continued future growth and strength.
“Encouraging and acknowledging future leaders is an important part of growing and supporting the automotive industry,” said Brad Gannon, CEO Automotive at Capricorn. “We at Capricorn want to help our members strengthen their teams and believe that recognition and reward will help businesses attract and retain the best talent.”
Thompson also wants people to enter the industry, particularly those who have previously been discouraged to do so
“I put my passion on hold because I had always been told that I wouldn’t make a good technician due to being female in a male industry. Don’t let anyone hold you back – I have had so much support since the beginning of my career and I’m loving it every day.”
Once she has her own business, Thompson said she would like to set up an academy in her workshop to train a new generation of apprentices, giving them the same opportunity she received.