Saturday, September 17, 2016

Where dreams come true

BMW = Barbara Monahan’s Wheels
Where dreams come true.

I was a tomboy growing up. This means that in addition to playing with ‘girl’ toys such as dolls, I enjoyed playing sports, cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, baseball, basketball, football, and with cars.

The cars my sister and I played with were mostly hand me down match box American model cars from our brothers. And occasionally, when we had some money we went to the five and dime store to buy a new car, usually a hot rod!

We played with the cars in and outside our home. We were builders. We liked to build environments to drive the cars. We used the materials we had at our disposal. Couches, chairs, pillows and coffee tables. Outside we used bricks as pavers to pave roads in the dirt. We used dirt, rocks, sticks and grass to make parking garages, offices and homes. And while I played with these cars I dreamt of owning my own car  someday to drive where ever I wanted to drive.

My dad worked in construction as a mason and my mom did not work or drive so my siblings and I had to walk to and from school every day. Sometimes an upper classmate who lived a few blocks away from our home would ask his mom to give us a ride. His dad worked for Ford Motor Company and would get a new car every year. I thought that was the coolest deal in the world and wanted the same when I grew up.

I bought my first car when I was 19 years old. I saved $2,800 to buy a used 1974 Pontiac Lemans with 4 doors, green exterior (green being my favorite color), black interior with front and back bench seats (enabling me to pile in all my friends for road trips). My dad took me to buy the car. I was beginning to date my husband at the time and had to cancel our date. He reminds me of this to this day after 30 years of marriage. Sorry, but sometimes the car comes first! As it did in this case!! It was so exciting to have my own car to make those paved dirt roads of my youth become real!

The Pontiac was totaled when, while driving down a very dark curvy road, I swerved to avoid hitting a 1965 Mustang and the people in it. I can still see their faces in the headlights of my car. The Mustang had stalled as the driver tried to make a u turn in the curve in the road. After I swerved to avoid the Mustang my car hit the guard rail which cracked the engine block. No one was injured.
Mustangs were another model that I thought was the coolest. And the next car I got, from my sister, was a 1972 Mustang with two doors, manual transmission, green exterior and black interior. It wasn’t a 1965 Mustang but I was glad to learn how to drive a manual transmission, something everyone should learn!

I came home from my college classes one day to meet my sister’s friend who I learned through our conversation that she worked at BMW. I asked her, “Do they let you drive their cars?” And she said “yes, we get a new car at least once a year.” I said, “I am going to work for BMW one day.”

My first Accounting position after graduating from college was at Chase Manhattan Leasing Company which was a branch of Chase Bank (now JP Morgan Chase). We managed leasing contracts for large construction machinery to small office equipment. The Accounting Management team consisted of two women as Controller and Assistant Controller. They saw my potential and gave me interesting projects, like relocating the Piper Aircraft back office functions in Lakeland Florida to our New Jersey Headquarters. And helping the Moberly Missouri office with some accounting issues. After a short 5 year career the parent company, Chase bank, decided to sell the leasing portfolio to GE Capital which meant that I had to look for a new Accounting position. The positions offered to me by Chase were not interesting to me so I had to look outside the company. The Assistant Controller gave me a lead from a recruiting firm that was looking for someone with my qualifications. I called the recruiting firm who, it turns out, was working for BMW. BMW, at that time, had a small leasing portfolio that was being managed by GE Capital and they wanted to bring it in house. I felt like KARMA was working in my favor and the aspirations of my youth and young adulthood were coming to fruition. In addition, the position was a perfect fit! At least from my perspective because one of my career goals was to be involved with a startup and here was the opportunity with BMW! I went on the interview and met with several BMW managers who were impressed enough with my qualifications to hire me!

Several years into my BMW career the BMW Roadster was manufactured. The Roadster is one of my favorite models. Mazda had come out with the Miata several years earlier and I dreamed of owning one. I drove the BMW Roadster and fell in love with it! BMW really does make the Ultimate driving machines!

I have had many great experiences in my BMW career because the environment was one that had room for me to stretch my skillset, explore new areas of interest and develop how and what I wanted to develop. My underlining work ethic stems from my philosophy that regardless of where I worked or the position held but especially at BMW (because BMW in my mind stand for Barbara Monahan’s wheels) that I own the company. Receiving a paycheck and benefits is my return on the investment of my time, experience and talents. My BMW story reflects that and an unfolding of my life dreams.
Dreams do come true at BMW!

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