Thanks and goodbye, you wonderful aftermarket people – I’ve had a ball…

As most of you will know by now, I am shortly to leave CAT and the aftermarket. I’m off to Autosport magazine to harass the motorsport world and give you guys a rest! But before I go, I wanted to share with you some of my best bits.

There have been more than a few funny moments sitting in the CAT ad sales seat and perhaps the most shocking for me was seeing one of the industry’s most notorious chatterboxes and ladies’ men lost for words when at one industry dinner, a rather fetching young lady marched straight up to him told him in no uncertain terms about the extra-curricular activities she’d be willing to enjoy with him.

“What, right here, right now?” he stammered and blushed, proving that he is more of a gentleman and certainly more bashful than I had given him credit for, and that aftermarket dinners can offer more than business networking, if you play your cards right!

Talking of industry dinners, they really do make you realise just how few women there are in this sector. Now, I have been brought up within a male-dominated world within motorcycle racing but the aftermarket is a different place altogether!

When I’m not in my leathers and motorcycle boots, I do like to glam up and my very first ADF dinner [the IAAF now, keep up – Ed] provided the perfect opportunity for me to wear my favourite designer dress and towering heels.

Although I spent much of the evening hoping that no one would notice I was walking like Robin Williams in Mrs Doubtfire (I may like to glam up, but I’ve never quite mastered the heels bit!), I didn’t bank on standing out from the crowd so much.

As I leaned against the bar, I was startled to be thrown into the air by a member of staff from a very well established parts manufacturer. The whole bar looked at me as I begged to be put down! Once touching floor, I ran as fast as I could and hid behind my manager with a barrage of drunken men following!

On a good note, there was never a queue for the ladies loos!

There were many more shocking and funny moments but I do have a serious message too. Two years on from joining CAT as an aftermarket newbie, I’ve learned so much about what makes this industry great, and I hope that I’ve done you all proud, helping you to get the most out of your marketing budgets and delivering you more business.

I’ve got huge amount of respect for this industry, Yes, we had a few hiccups during the recession, but motorists were fixing their existing cars. It was the OEM side that struggled, but we all fought it and the majority of us got through the other side. The aftermarket is strong.

I’ll leave you with one last best bit, the bit where I took Dave Bates, marketing manager at Wipac, to the WRC and I managed to totally show myself up.

Yes, you guessed it – a certain Mr. Valentino Rossi was racing and I got rather excited! The lovely Mr. Bates did everything in his power to clear a path through the crowd for me so I could get to the man of my dreams, and then it happened!

After screaming like a nutter, Rossi looked me dead in the eyes. It was the best moment of my life (though probably for him the scariest!).

So, this is it, thank you all for one of the best rides of my life. I’ve made a lot of friends in the aftermarket and I plan to keep in touch with you. I especially want to hear the gossip that comes out of the next ADF, or rather, IAAF, dinner!

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