Being an apprentice mechanic is hard work. Being a single mother is hard work. Combining the two is mind-boggling – but that’s what Monica does. And with four children at the age of 34, we can only applaud her commitment.
“I knew that my age was working against me and I knew that being a woman was going to work against me, but if you want to do something you keep trying until you get what you want”, she said.
“I’m a proud mum and even prouder that I’m working for the NRMA and showing my kids that you can be whatever you want – you just have to have a go.”
That’s the lesson she hopes her children will take from her example – and when the NRMA recently visited her children’s primary school to teach the kids about road safety, one of her 9 year old twins hopped up to boast about her mum being an apprentice mechanic for our car servicing business.
It takes a special kind of workplace to make stories like this possible and aside from helping families to keep moving on their journeys, the NRMA has long believed in equality in the workplace and in supporting staff with families wherever possible.
“You only have to look at the female representation on the board and within the leadership team.” says Sam Taranto, Executive General Manager of Motoring at the NRMA and herself a mother of four.
“It’s not just a flexibility for women at work, it’s a flexibility for everybody to do what they have to do to manage their families – and that means people with older parents, people with small children, people with teenage children, grandparents helping look after grandkids … it’s not something we just say, family really matters within this organisation and we see it in practice all the time.”
When asked if being a mother impacts how she manages her team, Taranto said it makes her think deeply about whether the work environment is one she’d want for her own children’s first or second job.
“The obligation for us to make sure that the workplace is one that is a really positive experience for each employee is critical, particularly when we’re bringing in younger, more junior employees for their first or second job – that’s why we’ve got coaching and mentor programs in place to support younger employees,” she said.
For some mums, the NRMA is exactly the kind of place they want their children to work. After herself starting a role in our call centre, mother of three Sandra decided to pass her recently graduated daughter Phoebe’s resume on for consideration. Two years later and they’re both still working at the NRMA.
Sandra sees her team as somewhat of a second family, often working after hours to decorate her team area in different themes to help maintain staff morale.
“It’s not always about what you get out of it, it’s about making the whole work environment enjoyable, and whatever you give you’ll get back tenfold – that’s how I live my life and how I expect my kids to be as well,” she said.
Mother of two Belinda started working with the NRMA in Tumut back in 1998 when her father ran the local agency, which she now runs with her husband and their employees – including two other mothers.
“It’s a great company to work for and I think the fact that we do generally want to help people, I just like the idea of being able to help people and assist when they need it,” she said.
But Belinda’s association with the NRMA started long before being an employee.
“With my first car, I wasn’t allowed to drive out the driveway unless I had NRMA roadside available,” she said.
“It’s just something that was instilled into me as a young driver, and a lot of our Members now are bringing their kids in and making sure that they’re also covered when they’re out there on the road.”
If you head to the NRMA agency in Grenfell in the Central West of New South Wales, you might meet mother of three and grandmother to seven Val.
Not only does she help Members when they’re renewing or upgrading, she’s also there to help her husband Pete – the local NRMA patrol – and his occasionally stranded passengers.
One of Val’s stories took place a few years back on a long weekend: the local caravan park and motel were full, and Pete got called to a job at 2am.
A couple of hours later he woke Val asking if the spare beds were made up, because there were a young couple with two small kids that needed a place to stay until they could get their car repaired next day.
“If it involves old people or young kids, it’s just something you do because, you know, if you were stuck out there and you had little kids, you’d want someone to help you. That’s the attitude you get because you’re a mother,” she said.
“But I feel the same way if it’s oldies too, because my mum’s still alive, she’s 93, and I’d like to think if she’s stuck on the road, I would want someone to help her.”
This Mother’s Day, we take our hats off to all the mothers in our community and we hope everyone finds time to check in with family. Oh, and that goes especially for Val’s three kids, because according to her, “They’d be in big trouble if they don’t!”