After winning Jaguar Land Rover Australia’s Technician of the Year award, Quintin Munro is off to the UK to take on the world’s best and showcase his exceptional skills.
Too often in life, those with considerable talent and who work hard aren’t properly recognised. It’s why many businesses lose their best employees, and only really miss them after they’ve gone. Rewards include better pay, promotions with greater responsibility, or sometimes just being told you’re doing an excellent job and it’s appreciated.
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is one employer intent on recognising its finest. Each year it awards a Technician of the Year prize, and for 2020-21 it’s gone to Quintin Munro, a foreman/diagnostic technician at Brisbane City Jaguar Land Rover. He won the same thing in 2019, was awarded similar at the 2020 Retailer of the Year awards (the normal event was cancelled for Covid), and has previously been decorated in his native South Africa for his work talents with JLR. The 31-year-old and his wife relocated to Queensland at the end of 2018, and we’re fortunate to have him. He may be too modest to admit it, but Quintin’s clearly something special.
“IT’S NO MEAN FEAT TO BE DECLARED THE VERY BEST AT WHAT YOU DO ON A WORLD SCALE.”
Securing Australia’s top award doesn’t mean a pat on the back and pizza vouchers. In 2019 Quintin was flown business class to the UK to compete against other national JLR winners. Here, technicians from 33 countries were tasked with finding faults built in to JLR products. They had 45 minutes to diagnose the problem, and were assessed on the clarity of their explanations and the time it took to find the faults. Quintin came third overall against this international field, and his latest Australian award will see him travel to the UK in 2022 (Covid-19 restrictions depending) to try and go even better.
As if the trip to the UK wasn’t prize enough, the global champion gets to choose a holiday with their partner. “Had I won I’d have picked the Jaguar ice driving experience,” Quintin said. All well and good, but he wants the pride of taking out top spot: it’s no mean feat to be declared the very best at what you do on a world scale. “It’s definitely competitive, but I like to work under pressure and I’m not the type of person who stresses easily,” he said.
You may expect such a high achiever to be a dash arrogant, but Quintin appears the opposite. Humble, friendly and with an easy smile, it’s little wonder Brisbane City JLR have him some mornings out of the workshop, liaising with service advisers and talking to customers. “If there are any issues I’m usually the one with customers, listening to them, explaining things, and making sure we get it right first time.” Refreshing stuff.
Quintin was raised in George, South Africa, and went through the JLR apprentice program in Pretoria. “You’re taught the normal mechanic stuff, but also Land Rover specific things,” he said. “Lots of electrical things, which is not something that’s part of a normal apprenticeship. By the time you’re qualified, you’re already highly skilled. Head office spends heaps of money to get people to a certain level.” Recognising the high level of training, Quintin said it’s not unusual for the likes of BMW and Audi to poach JLR technicians as their skill level is so high.
So what’s the secret to his high achieving? “The basics are the things most mechanics tend to forget,” he explained. “I honestly believe if you know the basics and believe in yourself, back yourself, I can’t see you going wrong. The basics will point you in the right direction. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fault where the basics don’t already show you where the fault is.”
It clearly works for him. For the 2021 Australian competition he was judged on five different technical assessments, each lasting an hour and testing diagnostic skills across current JLR vehicles. For the global award Quintin has to battle jetlag as well as the world’s best-of-the-best JLR technicians. There are a number of tasks to complete on test day. Judges play the part of customers, explaining each non-starting car’s symptoms, and the stopwatch begins. “There are barricades between each technician and the judge watches you from across a table,” Quintin said. “You tell him when you’re done and the clock stops. In case of a tie on your written diagnosis, the technician who does it the quickest wins.”
Quintin’s keen mind sets him up well for the future. Jaguar has promised it will be a fully electric car company by 2025, while Land Rover launches its first EV in 2024. “It’s exciting for me, but I do feel for a few people out there,” he said. “A lot of guys are mechanically inclined, especially the older guys. They’ve been pulling out gearboxes and overhauling engines their whole lives, and now they’re going to have to be highly skilled on electric cars. It’s a lot of information and very high voltage. The training is strict because lives are on the line.”
Quintin said his future could go in a number of ways. He’s at such a high level he’d be ideal in a training capacity – although his skills would be missed on the workshop floor. “I’ve got a heart for training and teaching as I have a lot of patience,” he said. He could also be the ace flown in to wherever he’s needed for the most complex diagnoses or repairs.
For now, Quintin’s hugely appreciated at Brisbane City JLR, and quick to note the teamwork and camaraderie between its 22 technicians. “Yes, you must back yourself, but also use the sources around you,” he said. “If the car has a fault and you’re at a crossroads, ask the guys around you; I can assure you someone will have seen the fault before. You can quickly run something past your colleague, you don’t have to let pride get in the way.”
One place he can’t do that is competing at next year’s JLR Global Technician of the Year. For that, he’s very much on his own. After 2019’s podium place, and a few more years of experience under his belt, let’s hope Quintin can bring the top award home to Australia in 2022, and bag that ice driving holiday. After all, recognising excellence is something all workplaces should insist upon.