• Comma Crash Repairs Team with Margaret at the centre
    Comma Crash Repairs Team with Margaret at the centre

 We love that Parts Check, one of the esteemed sponsors for the Women in Collision Awards, get so involved in spreading the word and encouraging businesses to nominate their team. They even print up T-shirts and give them out. Here's an interview they carried out with one of last year's winners Margaret Bauer from Cooma Crash Repairs who took out an award in the Administration category.

Can you share your journey and experience in entering the collision industry? What inspired you to pursue a career in this field?

I worked in health industry administration for over 20 years in Queensland. My husband had a job transfer to Canberra in 2016 and, as he grew up in Cooma, always wanted to move back there. I’m a Queenslander born and bred so didn’t know where to start looking for work in Cooma as the local hospital had no positions there at the time. Long story short, Cooma Crash Repairs advertised for an office manager, and I was offered the position. It’s not a position I was looking for but has many features like working with health insurers.

The position became more than just an office manager once I became familiar with the business. I also coordinate the bookings, WHS and recruitment. It’s only a small business and all staff multi-skill across several positions. Every day brings a challenge whether large or small and it is rewarding working with such a great team. 

The collision industry has traditionally been male dominated. What challenges have you faced as a woman in this industry, and how have you overcome them?

Margaret Bauer from Cooma Crash Repairs
Margaret Bauer from Cooma Crash Repairs at last year's Women in Collision awards

One of the challenges for us in the office is when male customers come to the office and either of us ladies in the office explain a repair process to them, we are basically dismissed. When we hand the customer over and one of the men explain exactly what we just said the customer agrees. Fortunately, we aren’t bothered by this and it’s a pleasure to know that our boss and other male staff have our back and support us. Often if the customer returns, they are more open to trusting the ladies which validates the work we do.

Could you highlight some of your notable achievements or projects within the collision industry that you're particularly proud of?

Covid was a challenging period for us and as you know there are less and less people training to come into this industry. I had worked in health recruiting staff from overseas and suggested that may be the way forward for this business. I started the immigration recruitment process, and we now have several migrant workers and they are a very important part of the Cooma Crash family. 

I am happy that we were able to navigate the business successfully through Covid, adhering to all the safe working requirements and keeping all our staff safe and healthy. It was very encouraging when the borders opened up again and our overseas staff could travel home to see their families.

What skills and qualities do you believe are essential for success in the collision industry?

Empathy is important in the collision industry. People don’t plan to have an accident and to need our services. For many people, they have never had a car accident and don’t know where to start. When we can step in and guide them through from one of their worst days and return a vehicle back to them in pre-accident condition it is very satisfying. 

An ability to remember people and their individual situation encourages them to trust our business and come back if ever they need our services again. 

Can you discuss any mentors or role models who have influenced your career in the collision industry? How have they impacted your professional growth?

My boss and his wife are role models that have helped me expand my professional growth. I have embraced any challenges that come my way with their support. I have become more confident in a leadership role as they give me scope to learn and freedom to mould my role to suit the business needs. 

What advice would you give to young women who are considering a career in the collision industry? What steps can they take to overcome obstacles and thrive in this field?

If working in the collision industry is something a young woman is looking to do, then go for it with a passion. This is an ever-changing field and the barriers to women are coming down. 



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