“Alex, the best part of this program is you get to experience everything, not have an overwhelming amount of responsibility, and ask as many stupid questions as you can fathom.” These were the approximate words of a former Management Associate, now a Regional Manager for BMW’s British-clad MINI brand. She has been a mentor, helping me navigate my rotations from MINI Product Planning, to Dealer Development, International Sales, BMW Armored High Security Vehicles, Marketing, among others. Every 3-6 months I pick up and move to a new area, perhaps a new country. My only constant is my Manager in Human Resources who also acts as a valuable guide throughout the two years. My mentor’s words are partially right and partially wrong; yes, I get to experience more than the average employee when it comes to variety and travel. No, my responsibilities are not always overwhelming, but like any job there are crazy times and calmer times. Yes, I suppose I am allowed to ask stupid questions but I only do so when I have thought about the topic, am at a loss, and decide it is a reasonable question for a young, new employee to ask.
Today is a special day because it goes beyond my normal project here in Mexico (more on that tomorrow). I am one month into my last rotation in the program which lands me at the corporate offices of BMW Mexico in Mexico City. Today is the launch of the all-new 3-series sedan, one of BMW’s best-selling, most important products globally. The launch is held at a former race track in the city center, and is a big deal, attended by Corporate upper management and all 32 Mexican dealers. The day is comprised of product presentations, Q&A sessions, a nice meal, and of course, the opportunity to test drive the car on the race track. While most days require me to sit behind a desk and attend meetings, aspects of this job (like today) appeal to the 16 year old who just got his license, the car guy, the motor-head. Today for nearly 2.5 hours I pushed a new 3-series sedan to its limits, foot to the floor, tires squealing, the whole deal. Afterwards, I sipped a Mexican coke (made with real sugar, not high fructose corn syrup), and learned about the new engine technology: lighter, less thirsty, making this sports sedan the most fuel efficient in its class. “BMW: Efficient Dynamics; providing premium driving pleasure with minimal consumption.”
I step out of the car with a smile on my face and feel proud: The concerned environmentalist in me can reconfirm his company is taking action and moving the industry forward into greener pastures. Mexico City, with its social class segregation and lack of real social mobility appeals greatly to my background. I am able to analyze it and apply real sociological concepts to my reality, helping me in my daily interactions with Mexicans both in and outside the office. Spanish—all day, everyday these days. If I hadn’t mastered it from my minor, semester abroad in Madrid, service trip to El Salvador, and participation in Dean Nussbaum’s International Assistant Program, I would surely not be here today. What value could I add?
Was my course of study a bit off the beaten path, Mr. and Ms. CSOM Baby Boomer? Sure was; but dare I reply that a 3-month trip to Mexico City might rock your boat a bit? Amazing how separately, we are both unnerved by the other’s competencies, but together we can be unstoppable.