Friday, March 20, 2009

Considering a Career with Enterprise Rent-a-Car? Read my Book First!

I got lucky.  I needed to find a job in a hurry; I'd just been laid off from Georgia Pacific due to the collapse in the housing market - not this one - the one from 1974.  After a bunch of worthless job interviews from a varitey of sources from the "now hiring" section in the St Louis Post Dispatch, I randomly selected an employment agency, located in downtown St Louis, talked to some guy named Bill or Billy or Bud; to tell you the truth, I don't remember any of those details.

What I do remember was this guy immediately took one look at me (I was conservatively clean-cut and a bit dorky), and sold me on the fact that I was "Executive Leasing" material.  "Executive Leasing" later had a name change operation, becoming "Enterprise Leasing", and then the final one which made them the world-famous "Enterprise Rent-a-Car".

I was quickly dispatched to conduct an interview with a gentleman by the name of Wayne Kaufmann and was advised to be especially enthusiastic and whatnot since Mr Kaufmann supposedly hires just one out of every ten applicants.  Of course, that was nonsense, but his strategy had merit; I was on my best behavior during the interview, appearing to be totally engrossed with everything I heard.

With Kaufmann satisfied that I possessed the necessary mind-set to work 60 hours a week for minimal pay, he quickly shuffled me over to meet with his boss - a terrifyingly charming and gregarious gentleman by the name of Doug Brown.  I continued my strategy of appearing to be completely thrilled with everything I heard; somehow uttering appropriate responses to mundane pieces of information which made absolutely no sense to me, whatsoever.

Just like that, I had unwittingly - yet successfully - navigated my way through that brief encounter with the scary Mr Brown; the very next day - much to my astonishment - Kaufmann called to offer me the job.  Strangely enough, I didn't immediately accept the offer; I had another one on the table, so I had to give this crucial decision some serious thought, carefully weighing the pros and cons of each career scenario.  As I recall, I turned down the chance to sell office supplies for some outfit that has probably gone out of business by now; unwittingly, I made the best decision of my life when I mysteriously went down that car rental career path.

Nowadays, Enterprise hires more recent college graduates than any other company in North America; the process has become a bit more complicated and drawn out, with various HR people putting applicants through a series of interviews with a wide variety of lower to mid-level management people.  For applicants who are able to maintain that high enthusiasm level for a few additional rounds of interrogation,  the chances of getting hired are probably still as good as when I hooked on way back in 1974.

I spent 26 years with Enterprise, becoming one of its highest ranking officers.  I witnessed, firsthand, the transformation of a small, regional company to international corporate giant; a giant that is cold and  humorless, instilling a culture of "fear" throughout the organization.  Unfortunately, most big corporations operate in this manner; there is little escape from insidious micromanagement, corporate politics, and ultimately, backstabbing.  Welcome to corporate America.

I wrote a fascinating and brutally honest account of my long and successful career with Enterprise - Life Under the Corporate Microscope - A Maverick's Irreverent Perspective - I would encourage anyone considering a career with Enterprise Rent-a-Car to read it; consider it a road map to help navigate through the frequently treacherous corporate landscape in front of them.

By the way, it's not only informative, it's hilarious.  You have my word on it.  For further information, check out my website:   http://www.outskirtspress.com/LarryUnderwood

4 comments:

  1. I'll wager that the employment agency that referred you to Wayne Kaufmann was Businessmen's Clearinghouse

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  2. I like that a box of donuts did more than national brand advertising in the wild wild west Uncle Larry.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, donuts were foolproof, even when the likes of me doled 'em out! I assume you once worked in the wild wild West, but I don't recognize "gefedwards"...

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