WinA: Member of the Month
This month we are delighted to feature the Managing Director of AA Recycling P/L & Pick-A-Part, Emma McIndoe. Having only recently started her first official role in the automotive industry, Emma has been immersed in the industry her entire life and recently taken over her family’s business which has been running for over 35 years.
With a passion for the industry ingrained in her since childhood, Emma has over 20 years’ experience in strategic consulting and financial services, preparing her for her current role at AA Recycling P/L & Pick-A-Part. Emma talks fondly of her experiences throughout her career and enjoys educating those around her about gender diversity in the automotive industry.
Tell us a bit about your current role or involvement in the automotive industry.
I am the Managing Director of AA Recycling P/L & Pick-A-Part. We are a family-owned and operated Australian business that has proudly served the community for 35 years.
We have two parts to our business: Auto recycling (Pick-A-Part) and Metal recycling (AA Recycling). I am the leader for all parts of our businesses and responsible for all strategic and operational decisions. I am also a part owner. We operate across two locations, Kilsyth and Campbellfield, and have an online store.
We pride ourselves on customer service, industry knowledge and making it easy for customers to interact with us. We are industry leaders in the automotive and metal recycling fields and are continually looking for opportunities to innovate and find new ways to recycle and reduce the amount of material going into landfill.
What was your first professional experience within the automotive industry?
On one hand my current role is my first ‘official’ role in the automotive industry, and I have been in this role since October 2019. On the other hand, however, I have been immersed in the industry my whole life! My parents, Jan & Peter O’Callaghan, started their first business in the automotive field in 1976, starting Apollo Gas Products, specialising in the wholesale distribution of LPG equipment before expanding into Auto & Metal recycling, starting AA Recycling and Pick-A-Part in 1986.
I feel privileged to be the new custodian of our family business, to continue the legacy whilst I juggle raising my three children with my husband Paul, but always reflecting on how my parents paved the way for me all those years ago. Prior to joining the automotive industry, I worked in strategic consulting and the financial services industry for 20 years.
Do you think you have experienced challenges within the industry that your male counterparts have not?
This is a really good question. As I have worked in a number of different industries prior to joining the automotive industry, I have a broad perspective on this one. Generally, I have always felt very well supported throughout my career and this stems back to how I was raised. It was always instilled in me from a young age that I could achieve anything I put my mind to.
My key observation since joining the automotive industry in relation to gender challenges would be mostly around two areas. Firstly, the question I was asked “why did I take over running our family business and not one of my brothers”? Or the comment that was made that I don’t look like someone who runs an automotive/metal recycling business. Given my many years of professional experience, I take these observations as opportunities to educate, lead and create change, particularly for those who are newer to their careers.
Secondly, the open recognition from senior leaders in the automotive industry that there has been an imbalance of diversity (greater than gender) at all levels, and it has impacted decision making over the years. I do think that this is rapidly changing, and it is exciting to be part of this change.
What is your biggest achievement within the automotive industry, personal or professional?
I am very proud of how my team has handled everything that Covid has thrown at them so far. Being relatively new to my role when the pandemic hit meant that it was all hands on deck and something new for us to navigate through together. My team all rose to the challenge, and as a result, we are still here in business today.
Do you have a favourite resource as a woman working in the automotive industry? Maybe a book, event, organisation, mentor, or online platform?
I am a member of the VACC Auto Dismantling Recyclers Division Executive committee which I joined in 2020. The committee is very inclusive and has allowed me to meet and collaborate with many likeminded leaders and industry members. There is open recognition of the value of diversity of background and thought leadership in both automotive and other industries. I feel I can add value from my experience to date in automotive, and my prior experience, as there are many overlaps in the skills required to engage and empower teams and to run and grow a business.
I also have a mentor from my time working in Financial Services, Ken. Ken works in the Financial Services industry and has been a mentor to me for over seven years now. He also happens to be a big car enthusiast! We have great wide-ranging conversations from key business issues /opportunities, the industry, global economics, and cars. Ken’s experience and points of view have really assisted me over the years, especially as I transitioned from financial services to the automotive industry.
Who is your inspiration as a female in automotive?
The answer to this one is simple, my Mum. In 1976, with five children under 10 years old and a mortgage, my parents took a leap of faith and took out a loan of $20,000 (which was a lot in those days), to start their first automotive business from our garage. The risk paid off, with the business being a success and expanding into Pick-A-Part and AA Recycling in the 1980’s. My mum & dad jointly lead these business’, all whilst raising us five kids, with my mum only retiring three years ago!
What is the best piece of advice that you have received or that you could give to another woman working in the automotive industry?
Always ask questions and don’t be afraid to approach people who you think have interesting careers and experiences. From my experience, they will appreciate that you have reached out and be more than happy to share their time to talk to you about their own career journey and give you advice. I have found this to be so beneficial in my career.
To date, I have met many fascinating people along the way, with amazing stories and advice, many of whom I am still in contact with today.