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Tony Molla is the communications director of the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) in Leesburg, VA. With over 35 years of experience in the automotive industry, Tony has held positions at all levels, including engineer, service manager, retail manager, new car sales and technical editorial writing service manuals for Chilton Book Company. He has written more than a dozen technical and car care manuals. Before joining ASE in January 2000, Tony spent nine years as editorial director for Motor Age magazine and Automotive Body Repair News (ABRN).
Question PATTY: Can you tell us a little about your job and your position at the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE)?
Tony: I am responsible for all corporate, external and internal communication at ASE. This includes things like press releases, industry presentations, fairs and our content on the website. I also handle our efforts for consumer utilization, which includes free articles that are sent out to consumer publications such as newspapers and magazines across the country. I also handle our search programs that involve our sponsorships in several areas. The biggest is our participation in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, where we sponsor Ted Musgrave's No. 9 Team ASE / Germain Racing Toyota Tundra. We also have less sponsorship with Aeroshell Aerobatic Team, with attendance at flight exhibitions all over the country and sponsoring three professional Bull Riders in the PBR series. We also have a grassroots racing program called Team ASE, which means that our ASE-certified professionals run their own vehicles. I am also the publisher of ASE Tech News, our company publication that goes to over 500,000 subscribers, which mainly consists of ASE-certified professionals and our industry entertainers.
Question PATTY: What does it mean to be ASE-certified?
Tony: ASE certification works like any other professional certification. Auto and truck staff must take and pass an industrially developed competence test in one or more areas of expertise to become certified. For example, there are eight tests in the car series. If an individual passes all tests in a series, they achieve the Master Technician status. Being ASE certified means that you have demonstrated the knowledge required to be proficient at a particular task, plus at least two years of practical repair experience. ASE also certifies sub-professionals, service consultants, machine operators, alternative fuel technologies, transport bus technologies, truck and collision techniques. It is important to note that ASE certification is a voluntary program, so the individuals who have achieved it have also shown a pride and professionalism that goes beyond the norm. These are the people you want to work with on your car.
Question PATTY: Why do you market the automotive industry to women? Need more women in the automotive industry?
Tony: ASE has continuously promoted the value of a career career for both men and women, but the demand for women in particular has increased in recent years. This increase in demand has several reasons, not least of the growing deficit of qualified technical people, but women have proven to be particularly effective in the role of the service consultant. When more and more women adopt the main role for the family car, it becomes more important to improve the communication process on the service service - and it has been shown that female service consultants are very effective in that role. It is also important to note that traditionally women have accounted for about one percent of the technician's workforce as well. In fact, there are some stores out there that are exclusively staffed by women.
Question PATTY: Can you tell us about your speech program at school? How do you educate and inspire young women to consider career in the automotive industry?
Tony: I participate as a speaker in several career day events around the country every year. It's really more a matter of being invited instead of a formal program by ASE. That being said, I consider my time in front of young people some of the most important work I do. I talk to children from primary school to upper secondary school and always make it a point to check out the opportunities for women in the industry. Some of the best automotive diagnostics I have met have been women, and the opportunities for a woman with a good technical background in the automotive industry are outstanding. These presentations I also mention use some brochures ASE has developed that outlines some of the scientific requirements in the industry for both male and female candidates.
Question PATTY: Are women aware of the opportunities available in the automotive industry?
Tony: I'm actually constantly surprised at how few women and men are aware of the many opportunities available. We in the industry work hard to keep both guidance counselors and parents informed about which good career choice it can be, but it is clear that we still have jobs to do to get the message out.
Question PATTY: What other types of jobs are available in cars that are not service or mechanic jobs?
Tony: The possibilities are almost unlimited. What I find interesting is how a technical background can open doors along the way in ways that most people never even imagine. I started myself as an auto technician and worked part-time while I went to college. When I graduated, I found the earnings potential much better in the service compartment. In fact, it was largely my technical background, along with a degree in journalism, that led to my current position. Meanwhile, I have held positions that write service manuals and as editorial editor for two national trade magazines for car and collision stores. But I'm just an example. There are opportunities in the automotive industry in sales, marketing, technology, design, manufacturing, personnel, advertising, the list continues and continues. If you are thinking about it, the car industry is much more than just selling and fixing cars.
Question PATTY: What are the resources for women who are interested in starting a career in the automotive industry?
Tony: Perhaps the best resource is your local technical education program at college or junior college. Getting involved in the car program can provide a deeper insight into the possibilities. There are also several initiatives in the automotive industry to recruit young people to the business. You can read more by contacting the aftermarket university, the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association or some of the dedicated technical colleges like the Universal Technical Institute or Wyo Tech, to name just a few. You can also contact us here at ASE with some questions. We are happy to help in any way we can.
Thanks for the great interview Tony!