CHANEL SMAILES: Divisional Human Resources Manager at KAP Automotive

#AutomotiveAllies: Chanel Smailes, nominated by NAACAM President Ugo Frigerio, is the Divisional Human Resources Manager at KAP Automotive. Chanel happened upon the Automotive industry quite by chance, having graduated from UCT with a Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning. She soon found that that was not the space where she felt fulfilled and changed her entire career path by taking a position at KAP Automotive as a Quality Administrator in 2001.

Over the years, Chanel worked her way through various roles within the organisation, eventually being appointed to General Manager of one of the Manufacturing units in Port Elizabeth in 2005.  In this role, Chanel grew her skills base and completed her MBA in 2010.  An opportunity arose within KAP Automotive to move into the people space and she took on the role of Divisional HR Manager in 2015.  Amongst others, Chanel has enjoyed combining her knowledge of the manufacturing environment with that of organisational dynamics to facilitate culture change within the organisation.  Having a foundation in operations has definitely given her different lenses on the realm of HR.

Advice Chanel would like to give to her younger self, #ThingsIWishIKnew:

Do not be intimidated by what you don’t know.  Use every opportunity to learn as much as you can about everything and build relationships with mentors to help guide you along the way.  Choose what rhetoric you listen to, and ignore those who tell you the automotive industry is a male-dominated environment.

How Chanel is uplifting women in the industry:

I have a passion for being part of peoples’ growth and development journeys, and hence continually seek to build relationships with younger women in the industry.  There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a new entrant in the industry realise their potential within, and to see them do amazing things in their careers.