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Feature Article

Changing perceptions

As a female director of a towing business, Pam Watson of Southern Districts Towing has first-hand experience of challenging the status quo and reversing misconceptions

“The towing industry is challenging in itself, because we have to contend with negative public perception all the time,” says Pam. “As soon as anyone thinks of towing – it’s usually negative!”

“But there’s so much more to the industry than that. It’s all about trying to shift those bad connotations. It’s the same roadblock that women in the industry face, they’re just as capable, but under-represented.”

Pam says that change in the sector needs to come from the top and believes the best way to encourage more females into the industry is to make them aware of the opportunities.

“Women may never have even thought about coming into this industry, so to campaign for more diversity is a great thing for the sector.

 “The biggest challenge we face these days is finding experienced drivers – there’s a shortage across the industry. The more people we can train up, the better!”

Operating a business with 30 staff and more than 20 trucks – three of which are FUSOs – Pam was propelled into her role as business owner when her husband passed away ten years ago.

“It was a difficult time because we were coming through the 2007-2008 recession and then my husband got sick and subsequently passed away in 2009. When that happened, I had no choice but to take the reins and push the business forward. It wasn’t an easy time, but we got through it and have experienced a lot of growth in the past two to three years.”

For Pam, grit and focus saw her succeed despite all the challenges.

“We definitely had competitors who didn’t think we’d last. I laugh about it now! It was probably also determination on my part. I wanted to push my husband’s dream to grow the business.”

Today, SDT services a range of clients including Auckland Transport, Counties Manukau Police District, IAG group, AA and more.

Encouraging more women to consider the industry, Pam says it’s all about attitude.

“Ultimately for me, as an employer, I don’t care who you are – I will give anyone a chance as long as they can show me they have the capability and ambition to do it.”

“I think from now on, I’ll definitely make it clear in my own recruitment ads that women should, and can, apply for a role in this industry.”

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