Jackson Burchell has always felt drawn to teaching others. This year he became a mentor at Toyota Material Handling Australia and it felt like a great personal achievement. Jackson reflects on what it takes to be a good leader and mentor to the next generation of materials handling technicians.
I’ve always had an interest in how things worked, so throughout school I looked into different hands-on trades involving machinery and decided I wanted a career as a diesel mechanic. I completed vocational education and training throughout year 11 and 12. One of the businesses where I completed work experience was Toyota Material Handling Australia (TMHA) and in 2015 I started my apprenticeship there.
Completing work experience at TMHA in 2014 was a great preparation for my apprenticeship. Having already worked with all the mechanics and seeing familiar faces on day one, I felt like I was already part of the Toyota family.
Shortly after completing my apprenticeship in 2019, I was given the incredible opportunity to start a new journey as a team leader within TMHA. This was a big responsibility and a step up in my career, especially since I was very young and had only recently become a qualified technician. I completed a Certificate IV Leadership and Management course to get a better understanding of what it takes to be a good leader.
One of the most important things I have learnt since being in this leadership role is that it’s not just about being the ‘big guy’, it’s about being someone your team members can look to for support and guidance when needed. They need to be able to put their trust in your hands and feel confident that they can talk to you when times get tough.
This does not happen overnight, this takes a lot of time, trust, patience and one thing that most people fear is failure. Don’t be afraid to get things wrong at times, this is where you learn and better yourself as a leader and a person.
Becoming a mentor for TMHA in 2023 felt like a massive personal achievement. I love the reward of being able to train, guide and support new apprentices as they start their journey with the company. As a mentor I can pass down all the skills and knowledge I learnt from my mentor throughout my apprenticeship.
I believe being a mentor for apprentices is an important role within any business. You need to have confidence, knowledge, adaptability and, most importantly, patience! Every apprentice has different learning styles, strengths and weaknesses and as a mentor you must be able to quickly identify these traits so that you can adapt your teaching style to suit.
Being an apprentice mentor has many rewarding aspects, I love seeing someone grow over time and become a talented, skilful and knowledgeable individual which they then take into their career as a qualified technician.
Apprentices are our industry’s future, they are the next generation of team leaders, mentors, supervisors or managers. Ensuring a successful and beneficial apprenticeship is important in retaining these new starters, being able to show them what they can achieve and the milestones they can reach if they are willing to put in the hard work, dedication and commitment throughout their career.
Since starting my career with TMHA, I have had to chance to be involved with so many different opportunities. Working with a family-orientated business that is also very involved in giving back to the community is important to me personally.
Most recently I got the opportunity to be part of the Toyota Forklift Legends car in the Variety B to B Bash for The Children’s Charity. Three other technicians from across the country and I got to drive a 1976 Toyota Crown Super Saloon 3000 km from Bathurst, New South Wales to Yulara in the Northern Territory.
This was an incredible experience and I am proud we were able to raise over $60,000 in donations to put towards supporting Aussie schools and kids that are at a disadvantage.
Outside of work, I am also a senior volunteer fire fighter for the South Australian Country Fire Service. I joined in 2019. I like being able to provide support and assistance when there are emergencies such as bush fires, floods, rescue, vehicle accidents, medical emergencies and yes, even the rescuing of the family cat from a tree, which actually happens from time to time.
No matter the emergency, it feels great being able to be there for others when they really need it and to support them.
My involvement in the South Australian Country Fire Service has taught me some incredible skills such as communication, leadership and teamwork. I take these skills back to my workplace and utilise them as a leader and a mentor.
Work in materials handling? The Forklift Diaries would love to hear your story!