Monday, 21 de November de 2016
Vanessa Cristina realized her dream two years ago when she became the first woman test driver of FCA
When she joined the FCA production team in 2004 as a tow operator, Vanessa Cristina de Oliveira Rodrigues was 21 and ashort time as driver. “The car was actually a Fiat Uno modified, without half of the rear body, and I would drive around, towing the suspension for final assembly on the production line,” she says with a shy smile. “I took the opportunity to practice quite a bit. I would park, would maneuver in warehouses and corridors, going through difficult narrow spaces. It was here where I got to practice and learn how to drive.”
She loved her role, which she held for almost 10 years. But from the beginning she had other plans: “I always wanted to be a test driver, but I thought it would be impossible because there had never been a woman on the team. Then, in 2014 they finally opened vacancies for women and I signed up immediately! “Test drivers are responsible for driving the cars that will be launched to make sure everything goes as planned or if any adjustments need to be made. They drive in real traffic situations in various fields, with camouflaged cars so they won´t be recognized by reporters and onlookers before the long-awaited release.
Vanessa had to undergo tests for mechanical and driving abilities, an interview and compete with 24 other colleagues who also participated in the internal selection. She was one of the four approved and the first to get the position. She went into the history books of Fiat as one of the first test drivers. “It is the realization of a dream to work with in this area. I feel happy and fulfilled by doing something that I love” she says proudly. Today, there are six women on the team, 10% of the workforce. Still, Vanessa says that she never suffered any type prejudice. “On the contrary, my colleagues have always treated me very well. They respect me as a professional and I learned that from them too. In fact, they even admire me for it!” she laughs.
Her family was not surprised with her dream. “On my 13th birthday I remember asking my dadfor a driving booklet, because I wanted to understand how traffic worked,” she recalls, smiling. “From an early age I wanted to drive. I miss the time I spent on the production line, but after I became a test driver I came in contact with a different work place, where I can observe the details of my job and learn about the new vehicles that will be released. It’s really cool, “she says.”I want to continue working here and I hope more opportunities open for other women too.”
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