Champion kickboxer Fallon Hignett has struck a blow for gender equality by graduating as the UK’s first female Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle breakdown specialist.
The 19-year-old from Liverpool works as a commercial vehicle technician at North-West Dealer Roanza Truck & Van. She joined the company straight from school three years ago, after earning a place on the award-winning Mercedes-Benz Apprenticeship Programme.
Although her apprenticeship does not finish until October, she has already taken the next step on her career path by achieving the stringent qualification required to become a mobile breakdown technician, and join the Service 24h team at Roanza’s branch in her home city.
Customers for Mercedes-Benz vans benefit from the manufacturer’s free (subject to terms & conditions) MobiloVan programme, which includes emergency breakdown assistance throughout the UK and Europe, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Highly-trained Mercedes-Benz technicians typically reach the scenes of incidents within an hour of the initial calls being received. Fitting only the manufacturer’s GenuineParts, they then fix four out of five vehicles at the roadside, avoiding time-consuming recoveries to Dealer workshops.
Fallon had already spent time ‘shadowing’ a senior colleague before embarking on a programme of on-the-job training backed by specialised courses in roadside fault diagnosis and repair, delivered at the Mercedes-Benz UK Training Centre in Milton Keynes – and accredited by the Institute of Vehicle Recovery – to gain her Service 24h qualification.
Roanza Group Aftersales Manager Nigel Lewin said: “We are very proud of Fallon, and delighted that she has achieved this important career milestone. Her achievement proves that the commercial vehicle industry is no longer the bastion of male domination it might once have been – dedication, hard work and a ‘can do’ attitude are the key attributes for success, and she has all three in abundance. Fallon is a great example to other young people who might be considering a career in our industry.”
Fallon is relishing the challenge of her new role. “I’ve always found workshop assignments interesting but dealing with vehicles at the roadside presents an extra test,” she explained. “I love the unpredictability of this job – you never know what you’re going to be faced with when you start a shift – and it’s nice to get out there and meet the people who drive our vehicles.
“It’s also highly satisfying to be able to diagnose and fix a fault, then send the driver on their way. They’re invariably impressed and grateful for the help we provide, which makes it all the more rewarding.”
Fallon’s drive to succeed has been evident since a very young age. She took up the sport of kickboxing at just seven years of age, is currently training six times a week and has a World Championship belt in the 16-18 age category in her trophy cabinet. “I think I probably bring the same combative approach to my work,” she laughed. “I don’t like to back down from a challenge!”
She continued: “I had no particular experience of working with vehicles before I joined the Mercedes-Benz Apprenticeship Programme, but I could see straight away that it offered a way into a structured career with great opportunities to grow. I would certainly encourage anyone to follow the same path.”
The award-winning Mercedes-Benz Apprenticeship Programme boasts an impressive 93% completion rate, with 65% of its graduates still working within the manufacturer’s Dealer Network after 10 years. More than 3,200 young people have undertaken technician and parts specialist training through the programme since it was established 23 years ago.
Training is delivered in Dealerships and at the Mercedes-Benz Apprentice Academy, which is located at the manufacturer’s UK headquarters in Milton Keynes, and provides young people with the technical expertise and in-depth product knowledge that will enable them to deliver outstanding service to customers.