KIRSTEN BATCHELOR: Production Manager at Faurecia

#AutomotiveAllies: Kirsten Batchelor, nominated Sebastien Koehler, is a Production Manager at Faurecia. From the age of eight, Kirsten knew she wanted to be part of the automotive industry.  Kirsten would wake up early on a Saturday morning to help her Dad service her Moms’ car and set her heart on being a motor mechanic.  School dress-up days, Kirsten would arrive in her overalls with grease on her face, nothing was going to change this little girl’s dreams.

At the age of 15, Kirsten realised she had a passion and great understanding of Maths and Science, so she set her sights on becoming a mechanical engineer.  Hard work and dedication at school landed her a position in Stellenbosch University’s Mechanical Engineering program. Everything was going according to plan, Kirsten was accepted at the University of her dreams, in the only program she wanted to study.

After graduating with great results after 4 years, she faced the challenge of landing my first job. Nine months later just when Kirsten was starting to become despondent, she could not believe it when she received a call from Faurecia; they wanted to interview her for their graduate program – a program set up to develop young graduates within the automotive industry. Kirsten got the job and was blessed with an amazing mentor whose passion was to develop young engineers.  Kirsten took every challenge as they came at her, got her hands dirty, and made it her mission to learn everything there was to know about manufacturing catalytic converters.  After 2 years on the program, Kirsten was awarded the NextGen Leader Role Model Award, a great accolade to be recognised by senior management in the South African organisation.

After 3 years in the engineering department, Kirsten was transferred into the operations department and took on the new challenge of managing a team of 80 people. At first, it was tough; a shop floor filled with so many men, all older than her, and with more years of experience.  It’s taken two years, but most days Kirsten can see they are making progress.  There are still tough days, but Kirsten knows that she has a team behind her, willing to work with her and support her in achieving the goals and objectives of the company.

#ThingsIWishIKnew: Things are not always going to go according to plan. Never give up and keep fighting for your dreams. Eventually, everything will fall into place just as you had always imagined.

#TheFutureIsFemale: Don’t let stereotypes dictate your career choice. With enough passion and grit, you’ll see there are hundreds of people willing to help lift you up to the top.