Be Inspired Series
Autotest Expert, Technician And NRC Lecturer
Toyota/Northern Regional College
Ballyclare man George McMillan is a petrol-head with pedigree. A master technician, he now provides Toyota UK with technical training and apprenticeships.
Tell Us About Your Day:
7.00am: McMillan rises but very often he will have been awake since 4am. “It’s not that I wake up worrying or fretting: it’s just that sometimes I have to think things through. This could be about the new training programme I have just completed for Toyota dealers throughout Northern Ireland so their technicians are fully on song for the fabulous new GT86 car which was unveiled this summer.”
8.00am: At the weekend he tends to be behind the wheel of a competition car. Last Saturday and Sunday he and son Jamie were in Cork for the Hewison Autotest Championship, a highly competitive and exhausting motorsport which challenges every aspect of control, timing and speed. “The Irish, north and south of the border, are acknowledged as among the best in the world at autotesting,” says McMillan. “It’s more exciting than any other Motorsport and there are six different classes: my son and I compete in our specially tuned light-weight Vauxhall Nova.”
During the week at this time I’ll immediately check emails: I have a number of different email streams. One is a secure communications line with Toyota which keeps me updated on any company news throughout the world. My Northern Regional College email is also a confidential one which allows me to keep in constant contact with my boss Brian Hill, head of engineering at NRC.”
‘I am always in touch with people. I have to be and therefore I am never without my Ipad. I queued all night when the first iPads were being launched and was the second person in the north to have one!”
9.00am “I teach all day Monday from 9am until 5pm at the Toyota Academy which is housed in NRC’s Ballymena campus in Farm Lodge. I love working with young people as much as with well established technicians.”
Uniquely, Toyota accepts technicians and mechanics from other makes as well as independents. “The Toyota programme is open to anyone who qualifies – in my class I’ll have guys from Ford, Vauxhall and independent garages – they’re here because we have the most advanced, modern kit and equipment to train on. There’s no point in training on obsolete machinery which is how we used to be taught.”
12.00pm If it’s Tuesday to Friday I’ll be preparing and writing training programmes, arranging complicated launches for new vehicles and administering the NRC course.
“Right now we are getting ready for the intake of new students later this month who will embark on the one day a week NVQ Level 3 course for the next three years.
“I wouldn’t normally have lunch and am happy with a cup of tea.”
2.00pm Because of the international nature of my job I might be abroad during these days when I’m not teaching. This summer for instance I spent July and August training UK dealership technicians and their managers on the GT86. But before I could do this I had to spend a week in Ascari Racecourse and in the mountains around Malaga testing the car and then taking it apart to have a full understanding of each intricate detail of how the engine, gearbox, steering and suspension, electrical componentry and all the other essentials.
6.00pm Home for dinner with wife Fiona. Son Jamie is about to start a five-year course at Queen’s in Mechanical Engineering – he’s a talented footballer but equally talented autotester and faces tough choices. Daughter Rachel is also at Queen’s doing law.
7.00pm McMillan’s other business is a Porsche Workshop which is renowned among Porsche owners throughout Ireland. “I own and operate the workshop and employ three very skilled technicians - one is a former Ferrari mechanic. Every evening I’ll pop round. I manage it remotely during the day but like to go into the shop whenever possible.”
11.00pm Bed time and a quick check on the iPad for any news before going to sleep.