My career story, by Aude Valnet
March 7, 2024

Next up in our series of International Women’s Day interviews is Aude Valnet.

Aude is one of the highly-skilled engineers that make sure we deliver safe, best-quality repairs and control costs for our customers.

What team do you work on, and what is the team focus/current goals?

I work on the Engineering Team. Our current and constant focus/goals are to meet customer expectations by reviewing repair costs (or customers’ requests) and authorising repairs within our SLA. We ensure that vehicles are repaired in line with the manufacturer’s methods, and our main priority is for a vehicle to go back to the road safely.

What does your day-to-day typically look like in the engineering team at Activate Group?

With my customers, I have the opportunity to deal with different types of requests/challenges. It could be reviewing estimates and authorising repairs in line with manufacturer’s methods, generating a total loss, cash in lieu, or valuation report, or simply responding to any enquiry a customer might raise.

What inspired you to pursue this career?

I come from France, and had a career in insurance there. In the UK I started work as a claims handler but after a couple of years I needed to give myself a new challenge. I worked closely with the engineers back then, and started to develop an interest in the department. I then contacted the IAEA (Institute of Automotive Engineer Assessors) to enrol.

How do you see your career developing in the future at Activate Group?

We are moving back to France at the end of this year to run my mother’s business (B&B) as she is retiring. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to continue working for Activate Group, which is a great shame. I hope to continue my career in engineering and will look for a part-time role with a new employer in France.

What’s a challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?

Learning all the technical terms was a pretty tough challenge for me. However, I was determined to pass all 5 exams! I had to teach myself what each technical term meant in French so I could understand overall.
When a situation / scenario was still tricky, I asked for help from my partner Rob Ferris who has been in the industry for the last 30 years.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Being able to work independently, but also having the option to reach out to the wider engineering team for support if required.

I enjoy the challenges the role throws at you daily, making sure that vehicles are returned to the road after repairs have been done correctly and safely.

What’s your proudest career achievement?

Getting the industry Jimmy Budd award which meant that the IAEA sponsored my full training course. It was awesome for my potential to be acknowledged so early in my career.

What advice would you give to people (and especially women) wanting to enter this field?

Don’t be scared, just go for it! There is nothing you cannot achieve with perseverance and motivation.

Want to hear from another female motor engineer? Read our interview with Samantha Perkins

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