Kelly Van Blommestein started out as a receptionist at Westpoint Ford when she was 14 and is now a dealer principal at the Werribee Automotive Group.
The Sanctuary Lakes resident tells Charlene Macaulay about her life in the western suburbs, working in the automotive industry and her family.

 

What’s your connection to Wyndham?

I’ve lived in Wyndham since I was six years old. I was born in Footscray, at the Western Hospital, and we lived in Spotswood. I’ve always loved this area, always felt safe … it’s a great community, and I think that’s why I’ve never really ventured out.

 

Tell me about your family.

My brother and mum and dad live here, and I’ve got two little ones – a girl, Monique, who’s seven, and my son Lucas, who’s five. My husband is a carpenter by trade, and he keeps me real every day. I have great support from my family, who help with the kids, and flexibility with work so I’m able to drop them off to school in the morning.

 

What are some of your hobbies outside of work?

I love my netball, I’ve played since I was four years old. I play either centre or goal attack.

 

Where do you like to go for coffee, or a meal?

Gemelli, we like our coffee from there, and Rendevous for breakfast.

 

You worked your way up from receptionist at Westpoint Ford to dealer principal at the Werribee Automotive Group – tell me how.

I started off when I was 14 as a weekend receptionist at Westpoint Ford and worked there until I was 17, where I started a Bachelor of Business and Accounting at Victoria University.

Nissan had opened up around the road, and I was asked to go with Conrad [Taylor] to help with accounts. I ended up going from part-time to full-time, and doing full-time studying after hours.

I became an assistant business manager, then I had an opportunity to do accountancy [elsewhere] … and I was told ‘you can’t go anywhere, we’ve got you earmarked as company accountant’, and at 21, I was the company accountant for Werribee Nissan. In 2004, I had the opportunity to buy in. I was quite young and took the risk … and I haven’t looked back since.

 

What’s it been like being a woman in a male-dominated industry?

It’s been a challenge as a woman, I guess. I did my dealer principal course three years ago just to get the recognition among my peers. I get asked ‘is it a family business?’ a lot.

I used to get annoyed about it, but I’ve worked really hard to get here and it’s paid off.

Way back when I started, only the car care consultant was female, and the receptionist. I now have three business managers who are women.

 

What car do you drive?

I drive a Volkswagen Touareg, mainly for family purposes and space. I’ve just come out of a Navara. I am very lucky to be able to change my cars, it’s one of the perks of being in the industry.