Ashley Weber (middle) winning Gold in the post-secondary level of car painting, at the WorldSkills competition in 2016. To her right is Brodie Gibson, winning Silver, and to her left is Gheorghe Apopei, winning Bronze.

By Erin McLaughlin

Winnipeg, Manitoba -- October 11, 2017 -- Bodyworx Professional magazine recently sat down with Ashley Weber for insight on her growth, inspirations and challenges throughout her journey with Skills Canada and WorldSkills. Weber will represent Canada at the WorldSkills Autobody Painting Competition in Abu Dhabi, starting October 15. 

Bodyworx Professional: How has your experience with Skills Canada and WorldSkills enriched your life, personally and professionally?

Ashley Weber: Professionally, it has put me very far ahead in my career. I now know things that I wouldn’t have known for another three or four years. The biggest thing personally is that it has given me a lot of confidence because I’m travelling all over Canada and to different countries like Australia and Abu Dhabi, and I’m learning a lot and meeting lots of new people.

Bodyworx Professional: How do you feel about this competition right now?

Ashley Weber: The trip is nerve-wracking. There are 26 other competitors, and we’re all at similar skill levels, so it’s up in the air—it’s a matter of who is going to do that one little thing just a little better.

Bodyworx Professional: How are you preparing for the competition?

Ashley Weber: I work at Urban Autobody in Winnipeg right now, so every day is training for me. I paint all day, and I train for three to fours hours once a week after work with my trainer, Dan Labossiere, focusing on things I wouldn’t normally do. My trainer and I also work at my high school sometimes, so I’m not always training at work.

Bodyworx Professional: What techniques do you focus on in your training after work?

Ashley Weber: I work on things like graphic design, mixing colours from scratch without a scale, and painting each side of a car door different colours at the same time. For the graphic design, I am given a picture of a design will all sorts of dimensions and measurements on it. I have to take what is given to me and use my knowledge to transfer it onto a panel of a vehicle, like a door, fender or hood. All the designs use up to five colours and include a decal that has to be applied as well. I’m feeling least confident about mixing colours, so that’s what I’ve mostly been working on lately. At the beginning of my training I focused on graphic design, because I had never done that before.

Bodyworx Professional: What have been your biggest challenges throughout this experience?

Ashley Weber: The biggest challenge has been confidence. Sometimes when I’m working I’ll feel like I have no idea what I’m doing, even though I do know how to do what I’m doing. Finding time to not only work on skills but to also do other things in my life has been hard, too.

Bodyworx Professional: Why did you choose the collision repair path? What are the experiences or people that have influenced you to become who you are today?

Ashley Weber: My interest in cars came from my parents. I was pretty much born into cars as my parents still have a collector’s car to this day, which led me to having my own. Along with my family interest and hobbies, I was given the option to take vocations at my high school at Kildonan East Collegiate, where I took autobody and carpentry. After my first year, I had to choose a major, and it was a toss up between automotive and autobody. I chose autobody because it was more me, and I already did autobody at home with my dad. After that, it’s all pretty much history and I knew this is was I want to do for the rest of my life.

Bodyworx Professional: What are your objectives or plans for the future?

Ashley Weber: After WorldSkills, I’ll mainly be focused on getting my red seal. I’m a level two, and I should be graduating in 2019. I don’t have any goals for the long-term right now because I want to keep doors open and wait to see what’s offered to me.

Bodyworx Professional: Was there anyone who was vital to getting you to where you are today, through encouragement or inspiration?

Ashley Weber: My local trainer, Dan Labossiere. I would have never gotten to where I am today if he hadn’t dragged me out of bed and driven me to that first competition. He was also my high school teacher for three years in autobody, and I’m very glad that he is in this part of my life now.

For more information about WorldSkills, please visit worldskills.org