The Capricorn Rising Stars is awarded to an apprentice who shows initiative in the workshop, eagerness to learn and a commitment to the automotive aftermarket industry. Chelsea was chosen from among over 600 nominees this year and you might even remember seeing her face previously in the Top 5 Finalists of the 2022 Capricorn Rising Stars.
“I feel like I’m a part of something that the younger me would have been really proud of,” Chelsea said of her win. “It really blew me away. One of the people I really look up to in this industry, Gabby Clift, won it in 2020, so I feel like I’m standing on the podium with her and I feel very lucky to be there with her.”
The Capricorn Rising Stars awards have been running for six years and have been won by three male and three female apprentices—a fact not lost on Chelsea. In the March edition of Ignition magazine, she shared with Capricorn Members her story of trying to get her start in the industry as a female apprentice. She explained that the workshop where she started her apprenticeship had not been supportive, had a negative culture and had her washing cars instead of servicing them. She left, went to university but didn’t enjoy it, then decided to finish her apprenticeship, finding a far more supportive workplace in John Edwards Automotive.
“It was the first time I wasn’t judged as a female but just as a person walking in to get a job,” Chelsea told Ignition. “It was the first time I realised not all places were like that first one.”
Given an opportunity to follow her dreams in an encouraging environment, Chelsea thrived. It’s something she reflected upon after her Rising Stars win.
“I felt really unsupported in my earlier years, and I just feel like I’ve now become this role model that other people can maybe look up to and know that it can be done. You can succeed and thrive,” she said. “I mean that humbly.”
Chelsea said she felt inspired by 2020 winner Gabby Clift, whom she got to know on training days with Bosch (they both worked at Bosch service centres) and at the Motor Trade Association of Queensland.
"I feel like I’m a part of something that the younger me would have been really proud of.”
“Gabby used to answer all the questions, and be the first one to put her hand up. She volunteered to do anything and really study what we’d learned the day before and come back with any questions she had about the work we were doing,” Chelsea said. “And I just thought, ‘Wow, there’s someone who’s really into their work and passionate’. We’ve kept in touch. She’s one of my mentors. I really look up to Gabby. I was so proud of her when she won the 2020 Capricorn Rising Stars award.”
Chelsea had been applying to the awards since 2020 and nearly didn’t apply this year, having been a finalist last year, until her employer, John Edwards, encouraged her to try again.
John said, "This is your last time to do it, just give it a go and see what happens’. Then, when I got it, I just felt like I’d made it. I’m absolutely chuffed.”
While the award settles into its new home on the shelf, Chelsea already has her eyes on the future and she and her partner have long-term ambitions to succeed John in the workshop.
“My entry strategy and his exit strategy are to buy the business off him,” she said. “That’s my goal with my partner at the moment, just to carry on his legacy.” In his nomination comments to Capricorn, John said, “Chelsea consistently proves to us that she is dedicated, hardworking and thoroughly passionate about the automotive industry. She takes initiative in finding and scheduling extracurricular training to broaden her knowledge base and improve her mechanical skills and understanding.”
Chelsea and her partner are already doing courses in business management and attending Bosch network events and council meetings to learn how to successfully run the business. Doubtless, the prizes she receives as a Rising Stars finalist and winner will help with that.
Chelsea’s now also sharing her passion with the next generation, attending career days at high schools to encourage young people especially girls, to consider automotive industry careers.
“I’d love to have my own apprentice or apprentices one day, and teach them in a really kind environment, like the one I had, so they thrive,” Chelsea said. “I hope one day my apprentice wins a Capricorn award too.”
What’s Chelsea’s advice to any apprentices considering entering next year’s Capricorn Rising Stars? “Absolutely just go for it because I feel as though even just answering the questions, and even if you get into the finalist stage where you can talk more about your story, that is just as valuable as winning,” she said. “I found that even last year, the opportunities that I had from being in the Top 5 were huge for my pathway… Go for it!”
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank our incredible sponsors - Castrol, Repco, and The Workshop Whisperer – once again for their generous support and contributions which ensured that Chelsea, the Top 5 Finalists and their nominating workshops all received recognition and amazing prizes. Special thanks also to all the Members who took the time to nominate their exceptional apprentices and encouraged and supported them during the application process. We can’t wait to hear from next year’s crop of fantastically talented apprentices!