Working in retail since college, Mark Hathaway, 33, would be the first to admit he knew very little about the automotive industry before he joined Jardine Motors Group in April 2015. Having worked for over a decade within retail Mark had seen his career progress within one of the UK’s leading health food retailers.
However, as Mark’s career progressed with the company, the amount of time he was able to spend interacting with customers, an element of the job he really enjoyed, was significantly reduced; with Mark predominantly working in the store’s back office. After his position started to change in the retail sector, Mark decided to swap food for engines and is now sales executive at Lancaster Volkswagen Letchworth, part of the Jardine Motors Group. He explains why after so long in the retail industry he was keen to cut his teeth within the automotive sector. He says: “The elements of my previous role I enjoyed the most were without doubt the high levels of customer interaction. However, as my role progressed I found the time I was expected to interact with customers was becoming less and less.
“In January 2015, I decided to take the leap and step outside my comfort zone. I reflected on what my main skills were, what I enjoyed most about work, and started looking at other industries where I would be able to put them to best use.”
With a natural talent for building long-standing customer relationships together with his strong values, Mark began his journey with Jardine Motors Group, where the team were on-hand to deliver the training and support Mark needed to be successful in his new role.
Mark has worked hard to get to know the industry and used interpersonal skills to establish his position within the team. On a personal level the change has seen him move from being a motoring novice to somewhat of a fanatic, especially with the Volkswagen brand. Yet for Mark, this is only the start; looking ahead, Mark is determined to transfer across more of his existing skill set, by helping to deliver in-house training to his team, including mentoring a new starter who will be joining the business.
“Since starting my new role with Jardine Motors Group I’ve found a lot of my skills naturally transferred to my new working environment. I think people within the retail sector especially, are well-placed to make the switch in career. For me the ability to strike up a meaningful conversation with new people helped prepare me for the role more than I perhaps realised.”
In terms of advice for anyone thinking of switching career, Mark believes it is important to evaluate your passions and skill set, identifying areas which are easily transferred into a new industry. However, it’s not just those thinking of switching industry Mark has advice for, commenting on his own journey Mark can recall a number of occasions where perspective employers were less than supportive of his goal.
“There is a misconception within the automotive industry that people joining the trade should come from within, or at the very least live and breathe all things automotive. But that is not the case. Just as the customers who come into the showroom every day have different needs and car knowledge, we need to reflect this diversity as a business in order to serve them as best as possible. There are hundreds of highly skilled professionals out there who would make fantastic employees within the sector; the industry now needs to look at more ways it can help those wishing to make the transition.” Mark concludes.
To find further information about the wide range of career opportunities available at Jardine Motors Group, visit: www.jardinemotors.co.uk/careers/