Think HBR

Let's talk with Rachael Sheldrick

1. In a few words tell us about your current role.
I am the managing director of our automotive workshop G S Mechanical at Whitebridge, overseeing all operational aspects of the business. I’m also director of The Workshop Whisperer, the leading business mentoring service for self employed mechanics across Australia and New Zealand. 3 years ago I identified a major gap in skills for mechanics running their own businesses. I’ve been able to help bridge that gap with the development of an online program that upskills them in all areas of their business including productivity, pricing, margins, systemisation, customer service, sales and marketing, branding, knowing their numbers, and how to win new work.
2. How have you reached this point in your professional life?
My whole working life I have been involved in some type of sales, marketing, or mentoring. I started out selling pay tv door to door back in the late ‘90’s, and that is really where I learnt everything about selling, and a lot about human behaviour! I didn’t specifically envisage ending up in the automotive industry, so that part is all thanks to my extremely talented husband Glen. Without his skills as a master technician, we wouldn’t have an automotive business to grow.
3. When you’re not at work, where can we find you?
You will always find me with my husband and our three children. I travel a fair bit these days speaking at events, so when I’m home it’s really important to me that I am spending quality time with them. I love to read anything that expands my mind, and I have a keen interest in what helps my body and spirit to perform at its best.
4. Where do you find inspiration?
I don’t have to look very far for inspiration. I have a fabulous tribe around me. My husband, parents, children, and my entrepreneur friends, are constantly inspiring me to continue towards achieving my goals.
5. What advice would you give to someone just starting out in your field?
Find your tribe. This is so important because who you hang out with will be a major determining factor for how successful you are. Don’t take advice from people who don’t have the results you want. If you aren’t getting the emotional or business support that you need, reach outside your networks and try something new. I travelled to Sydney and Melbourne a lot to attend seminars, meet other entrepreneurs, and learn from people that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to connect with in Newcastle. I’ve worked with mentors that have the results in life and business that I want, and that has been huge for the growth of both of my businesses.
6. What’s something most people don’t know about you?
While I put on my extrovert pants in public, like most entrepreneurs, I am a complete introvert at heart. Just give me home, my nearest and dearest, a quiet place to just be, and I’m ecstatic!
7. How would you like to see the Hunter evolve over the next decade?
I’d like to see harmony within the entrepreneur/business owner space.
Australia is known for its “tall poppy syndrome”, and in our region it’s rife. It’s disheartening to see brave and talented people step out into the world with their big business ideas, only to be shot down by those with no intention or capability of ever being that brave. On a better note, it is fantastic to see new co-working spaces and hubs popping up all over Newcastle and Lake Macquarie. By just spending even a few minutes in one, you can feel the energy from creative and inspiring entrepreneurs bringing their visions to life. I’d like to see a local enterprise back local entrepreneurs through access to start up or expansion funding. The current programs like this are too specific in terms of who and what qualifies.
Also, I think entrepreneurship is something that our children should have greater exposure to at school. I’d love to see both the university and our high schools engaging in this. While I think it is valuable that we all spend time in the workforce as employees, we could do more to support the growth and aspirations of young ‘treps.
8. What’s your favourite Hunter restaurant/café/bar?
There are so many! Special mentions to Rustica and Bar Petite.
9. Are you reading anything at the moment?
I’ve always got more than one book on the the moment I’m listening to “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle, and the “The Big Leap” by Gay Hendricks.
10. Do you have a favourite sport or team?
The Valentine/Eleebana U 8 Strikers soccer team!
11. What’s the best line from a film you’ve ever heard?
“Build it and they will come”