From left: Michelle Holden, Charlie Schwerkolt, Mark Winterbottom, Scott Pye
DRIVING FORWARD: WOMEN IN TRANSPORT
In this month’s edition of ‘The Women of Hino’, we chat with Michelle Holden, Events and Sponsorship Specialist at Hino Australia. 2023 is a big year for Michelle as she celebrates her diamond milestone, marking her tenth year with Hino.
From a stock beginning to a super start
In her early years, Michelle worked at her uncle’s caryard helping out with stock control. What began as a little extra admin at the caryard soon became the start of a career in the truck industry, when Michelle later took a position at UD Trucks, once again lending her keen hand to stock control. This is where her passion for the truck industry took off.
Within the year, she moved into sales, becoming Sales & Marketing Coordinator not long after. At this time, UD Trucks were a major sponsor of the West Tigers and Michelle managed their sponsorship, corporate hospitality and customer events. It was here that Michelle began working in events, conferences, trade shows and sponsorship. She quickly realised this is where she wanted to be.
When UD Trucks moved to Brisbane, Michelle left and spent a few years at the WMC Group on Higer Buses and Jac Trucks until she was made an offer by her old Marketing Manager, who was now at Hino.
Michelle is now the Events and Sponsorship Specialist at Hino, overseeing the management of the brand’s seven year running Supercars sponsorship. “I couldn’t be happier,” she tells us. “As a kid I watched Formula One with my family and I’ve been a motorsport diehard ever since. I now get to live my passion for motorsport every day with my job.”
Keeping Hino on track
Along with her management of Hino Australia’s Sponsorship portfolio, Michelle keeps busy managing corporate hospitality experiences for dealers and customers, ensuring unique experiences are delivered through on track activities.
Whilst not on track, she manages all trade shows and internal events such as the National Dealer Conference and the Dealer of the Year Awards, one of our biggest events on the Hino calendar.
Along with helping to grow the Supercars Sponsorship, Michelle tells us that delivering bigger, better, more successful truck shows, and building greater recognition for the Dealer of the Year Awards truly stand out as some of her greatest career highlights and proudest moments.
Adjusting to no events during the pandemic
With no events being held during the pandemic, we were curious as to how Michelle’s role was forced to change.
“The pandemic changed everything. All our face-to-face events were cancelled. So, we had to think on our feet, get creative, and quickly adapt to new ways of holding events.
Just like meetings, everything moved online. For us, that began with virtual conferences. This was a challenge, as all our presenters were operating remotely and relying on uninterrupted internet connections… which wasn’t always the case!
Everything changed for the Supercars too. Drivers swapped their V8s for race simulators with everything shifting online, igniting the E-Series, which was broadcasted live. We made sure to keep super active as a sponsor while it was all going on, continuing to promote the E-Series through social media.
Back in 2016, Hino Australia’s Supercars Sponsorship started as just a three-year deal. It all began with minor signage of just one car back in 2017 for the Team 18 Sponsorship.
“I’m proud thinking back to where the sponsorship started, and fast-forwarding to 2023, where Hino is a naming rights sponsor”.
A changing industry
Beginning in the transport industry in 2005, Michelle has seen a lot of changes. What was once a very male dominated industry is beginning to diversify, with more women coming into traditionally male-dominated roles, and vice versa.
“Back when I started, it was very male dominated. Any females in the industry were nearly always in admin roles.”
Over the years, this has changed tremendously.
“It’s so different now. There are a lot more females coming into the industry, and what’s even better than seeing a greater number of women, is seeing more and more women as Service Technicians, Parts Interpreters and Marketing Managers, which have historically been very male-dominated roles. It really is great to see.”
Michelle adds, “While the industry has become more diverse, there are still more males in senior management. In saying that, we’ve still come a long way, and it certainly hasn’t held my career back. The key to my progression has been forming a rapport based on performance and maintaining respect. I’ve been pretty lucky that all my past managers, who were males, have all believed and trusted in me, and given me complete autonomy to do my job.”
The road to a successful career
With a growing number of opportunities opening up for women in the trucking industry, Michelle gives her view on what it takes to make it work.
“I think the key to succeeding in the industry, regardless of gender, is having confidence. You don’t need to be an expert in all things trucking, but you do need to back your ability to do the role, because if you back yourself, others will too.”
When asked what advice she’d give to someone wanting to get into a sponsorship role, she chuckles, “Get ready to give up your weekends… no matter what sporting code you go into. Footy, motorsport, whatever it may be, they’re mostly played on the weekend, so be prepared for that!”
Michelle has put her foot to the floor and built a highly successful career, putting her success down to loving what she does.
Michelle is one of the many women driving change and bringing a fresh perspective to the Transport Industry, with more and more opportunities opening up.
Michelle, we can’t wait to see what you bring to the track in the next 10 years.