This is a sponsored advertorial from The Otomotif College.

The grand thing about life is that you’ll never know where it takes you, sometimes. Gan Chee Hong never thought of a career in the automotive industry until he finished his STPM, and even then, it wasn’t until he started working as a used car salesman that his interest in the industry began, eventually deciding to pursue a career in it.

Back then, he was working in Johor and the idea of coming to Petaling Jaya to study was a difficult one. Nevertheless, it has turned out to be a choice he hasn’t regretted. Gan signed up with The Otomotif College (TOC), and today the TOC graduate is a workshop executive at a Toyota Service Centre in Kepong.

“I was convinced to join TOC because of its advanced facilities and equipment. The school had all the teaching aids, simulators, cars, and engines needed for a quality automotive education, which is essential when we work with technologies that are constantly moving forward,” he said.

A TOC Outstanding Achiever Award winner, Gan’s key to success was his ability to pay attention to detail. “Engines were my favorite subject. I like how the accuracy of a tiny moving part can affect the entire operation of the whole engine and one small mistake can lead to a need for overhauling,” he stated.

“TOC had a lot of engines for us to work on, therefore giving us a lot of practical experience. I enjoyed taking apart the engines and putting them back together again. We were able to explore further the details of an internal combustion engine, in areas such as lubrication and cooling systems as well the valve mechanisms, besides performing systematic fault diagnosing and on-vehicle inspection procedures,” Gan said.

“The trainers were very patient with us, explaining each step of the way. This helped my learning process in being able to overhaul an engine within a specific time frame and as per manufacturer specifications.”

“My trainers were always willing to provide answers and explanations to our questions and doubts in mind,” he added. Gan also expressed his gratefulness to his trainers for giving him and his classmates the opportunity to take apart new engines for testing, provided that they didn’t do any damage to them. “It was really challenging and required great teamwork as well,” he recalled.

The college has a variety of sophisticated equipment for students to gain a strong practical foundation. There’s a Common Rail Direct Injection Simulator that can simulate real faults and corrections in diesel engines using common rail technology, a Honda Jazz engine simulator and a BMW engine simulator on top of many other models.

These engines are normally inserted with electronic faults at the trainer’s teaching station, and students have to learn how to diagnose and repair these errors through special hand-held diagnostic tools and machines. Besides that, TOC students also get to learn about electronic fuel injection systems on real-life Electronic Fuel Injector engines.

“At TOC, we were exposed to the latest engines and cars, with an extensive garage of bought-in and partner-supplied vehicles from brands including Citroen, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Lexus, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Subaru, Hyundai, and Proton. Of course, TOC students now have access to a race-tuned Nissan Skyline and Subaru Impreza STI Vr.8 and the Honda Civic Hybrid,” Gan enthused.

Having been in the line for three years now, Gan admitted that he had gained a lot from the instructors at TOC, who were all master and degree holders with many years of experience in the automotive field. “Like many of my Chinese-speaking peers, I took about one week to adjust to the use of English as a teaching medium initially,” Gan laughed. “But then, it all made sense to me. As diploma holders, we are taught to write reports, communicate to all levels of customers, and even become team leaders at one point or another. And all these are done in English.”

Through his hard work, Gan was spotted for his outstanding talent and passion during his internship and was offered the post of being a permanent staff even before graduating. Entering the industry as a technician, he is now an executive in charge of both the major and minor going-ons in his workshop, managing others under him.

“I have to adapt to more administrative work in this position. As we move higher we have to plan, organise, control and manage the work and this requires administrative skills. For example, when UMW requires us to come up with a production setup, I have to figure out a plan of which bay belongs to who, and what job each team will be in charge of,” said Gan, who currently has 12 technicians and three team leaders under his charge.

“I am known for my serious attitude at work. When I am working, I emphasise on the importance of standards and quality,” Gan admitted. He also shared that the first thing he would do in the morning would be to check the previous day’s job cards and ensure that the technicians and team leaders had completed the scheduled work.

“Thankfully, Toyota cars are made to last. And we seldom have any major problem,” Gan laughed. However, there are indeed certain occasions when customers modify their car beyond recognition and then complain about problems such as their vehicle having not enough power and so on so forth.

Gan with Chia Boon Thong (left), a recent graduate from TOC and a semi-finalist in the Toyota Skills Competition.

“One of the most challenging troubleshooting jobs was with a customer who had filed 20 complaints. My boss had requested me to look into this matter,” exclaimed Gan. “He filed a complaint to our headquarters but to be honest, it was his aftermarket add-ons that were causing the problems – the skirting was not installed properly, and all the modification jobs which were badly done had affected his suspension and other parts of the car.”

“Nevertheless, we removed all the affected parts, reinstalled it for him and did our best to refurbish the car to normal working condition,” he shared. “I took pictures of each problem and then detailed in the report what had been done to correct it. It took me one week, working from 8am to 5pm, to resolve all the complaints. When I presented the car back to the customer, he was satisfied with what we’d accomplished and was very pleased with the customer service,” Gan said.

Of course, they could very well have ignored the customer as it was not what the service centre had done that caused the problems. However, Gan pointed out that it was all part of good customer service and the company even returned the car to the satisfied customer with all the rectification work carried out completely free of charge.

“Recently, we have hired another TOC graduate and our workshop sent him for the Toyota Skills Competition. He has performed well and now he’s in the Semi-Finals. We are proud of him and hope he wins,” he shares excitedly.

“Toyota is a great place for me to work and learn. We often share knowledge with other branches so that we can solve problems more efficiently and quickly,” he continued. Gan himself is inspired to open his own workshop one day.

The in-depth training that Gan received from TOC has enabled him to have a successful career in the automotive industry thus far. Students interested in starting a power-charged journey in the automotive field can visit TOC and see how the advanced facilities such as their Autotronics Laboratory, Chassis Dyanamometer, E-learning systems, Dedicated Component Training areas, Engine Blueprinting Lab, and more, can produce a knowledgeable and competent technician.

Besides their main campus in Petaling Jaya, TOC also has offices in Johor, Penang and Sabah to provide detailed information about automotive courses, careers, and their unique lifetime job placement. For the newly opened Johor Bharu Office at Jalan Harimau Tarum, please call 07-333 9388. For Penang residents, they can visit our office at Kristal Suites, Bayan Lepas or call 04-640 2867. Alternatively, Sabahans can visit the office at Kompleks Asia City or call 088-488 950.