The days of the old Holden parked in the driveway, with a father and son peering under the bonnet are long gone.
These days almost everyone in a household sits behind the wheel and has the chance of getting stuck on the side of the road with a flat tyre or hearing a few clanks before the car stops rolling.
One woman who wants to make sure you know what to do when you find yourself in one of those situations is 2020 Telstra Business Women’s Awards Finalist and founder of Galmatic Eleni Mitakos.
Ms Mitakos has recently been in the media for running a car workshops at an all girls school in Sydney, showing them how to change tyres and various ins and out of vehicles.
“We teach both boys and girls schools, but we tend to get more media attention when we’re teaching at a girls school. Then you see all the comments that say ‘why don’t you teach boys’ and we definitely do teach boys,” Ms Mitakos told Neos Kosmos.
“I think it seems more interesting that we teach girls, because we wrongly assume that boys know how to do it but no ones teaching boys or kids at all.”
Galmatic started off as a book written by Ms Mitakos when she was pregnant with her first daughter Zoe, for girls who wanted to know even just a little more about what happens behind the scenes when jumping into a vehicle.
The feedback was great at the time but many people wanted a more hands on experience, so in 2007 Ms Mitakos started running workshops.
Much like the cars that have changed over this last decade, so have the attitudes towards women in the workforce.
“Whenever kids would ask us questions, the main question used to be ‘what’s it like working in a male dominated industry?’ but you know what they’re asking now? ‘What’s it like running your own business?’ It’s great,” Ms Mitakos said.
“This generation especially young women are saying ‘I’ve watched your generation, work, come home stressed, cook and clean and do everything, and I don’t want that stressful life. I want a career that’s more flexible and I want to do my own thing’.”
Ms Mitakos’ road to becoming a business owner was not particularly one off the beaten track. She, like many others of her generation took the traditional path of heading to to high school, then to university and then jumping into the corporate world.
Before Galmatic, Ms Mitakos worked as a corporate trainer, so teaching and mentoring is basically a part of her DNA.
More surprisingly however, is her 30 year career in acting which she says has taught her some valuable lessons.
“You know what’s great about acting? The rejection. When you go, you’re in a room full of losers and you learn very quickly that there’s nothing wrong with you and you’re just not what they’re looking for, for this particular role…It’s pretty much 90 percent rejection. I think it’s good for your self esteem, every kid should do acting, a bit of rejection is good,” Ms Mitakos said.
When she reflects on her various careers however, the greatest highlight is not landing a commercial or getting recognised by the media, but rather seeing the positive influence she can make in the lives of others.
“I taught for some time with Harley Davidson and just watching those kids who were doing the apprentice program, who were doing it from struggling from school and not doing well, who were finding the reading and writing hard. If you could just find that little spark that inspired them, just watching them jump for joy when they’ve found that learning spark and seeing their face when they go ‘oh I’ve got it’ is worth it all,” Ms Mitakos said.
Ms Mitakos hopes that in the future she can continue building on her mentorship, perhaps by branching out into teaching teenagers business skills. That is not to say Galmatic will be on the backburner, but the team is looking to one day run programs nationally.
Right now, Ms Mitakos and her Galmatic team are focusing on getting through term four, noting that teens in schools are more excited than ever to get some hands on learning after a lengthy lockdown.