Brenda Iversen from Mark McHugh's Body Works in Queensland is one of the last finalists to be announced for the 2016 awards sponsored by NRMA.
Brenda Iversen is at the helm of Mark McHugh’s Body Works, QLD, as its owner. Rewind the clock 25 years back, when Iversen entered the industry and the landscape was vastly different for women. “When I first started, women in the industry were unheard of. Women are becoming more and more important and valued – the industry needed that feminine touch.”
Iversen left school in grade 10 with no formal tertiary qualifications. She reflects that entering not only into a male-dominated environment, but a highly technical industry was tough, she has managed to carve out a career as a successful businesswoman.
“I stepped into the industry and learned everything the hard way. It’s been so rewarding that my family can follow on in the business.”
“I have always attended any industry meeting and was regularly the only female at these meetings in the ‘90s – so it’s great to see that has now changed.”
Iversen’s son Chris currently manages Mark McHugh Body Works while her role remains firmly on the pulse of the business.
“My primary role in the business is accounts, payroll and invoicing. You can however, at times find me cleaning the office or workshop and detailing cars or picking up and dropping off customers (this is the best time to find out what they like or dislike about your business). Cleaning the toilets and picking up rubbish sneak in on my job description at times too.”
While office management is typically associated with the role of women in smash repair – and still remains integral to any business’ operations – Iversen believes there are increasing number of women showcasing skills on the shop floor.
“They are valued and recognised as tradespeople. It’s good to see women becoming spray painters and panel beaters. They have great attention to detail.”
Aside from running her own business, Iversen has also immersed herself in charity work over the past couple of years and is involved with children’s organisation Variety Queensland, a foundation which aims to better the lives of sick and disadvantaged youths.
“Our all-female team have travelled some 6000 kilometres on the driest, dustiest, longest roads throughout Queensland and New South Wales in a (definitely not) dust proof and un-airconditioned 1969 HK Holden. We had very little sleep, drank too much alcohol and met some of the most incredible and inspiring people on the way, but most importantly we have raised over $60,000 for our disadvantaged kids. To prepare the car and fund raise takes well over six months and due to other commitments this year I have put the bash on hold – but will be back with bells on in 2017.”
Looking to the future, Iversen believes that as the smash repair evolves and changes in the next five years, the role of women will become all the more important.
“It’s just going to continue to grow and respect too will grow stronger.”
What’s her advice for women working in collision repair, or those considering a career in the industry? Iversen says it’s all about maintaining a sense of pride in achievements.
“Hold your head up high and know you’re valued in this industry.”
She also warns that success doesn’t come without putting in the hard yards and an abundance of 12-hour days.
“To own or manage a successful business and team you have to be multi-skilled, be part of the team and be prepared to get your hands dirty. It is hard work, it is long hours, it is dedication, but it is what I love – I have great respect for this industry and know that the future is bright if you want it to be and that is what I strive to make my team feel everyday they come to work.”