A perfect surprise
Q: In honor of recent graduates: When you finished your schooling, did you know what you wanted to do in life? How long did it take to find a job or profession that "fit" you? Are you still in your original field?
The pathway to my present position took a very circuitous route that involved international travel.
I was born in Japan and spent the next 18 years of my life living overseas as both my parents were employed by the Foreign Service. Brazil, Portugal, Mozambique, Swaziland, South Africa and Botswana were among the countries I called home.
Graduating from George Washington University with a degree in International Affairs, I planned to follow in my father's footsteps. During senior year in college I located an internship with the Overseas Education Fund, which had the mission to lift the status of women in third-world countries.
Following graduation, this organization offered me employment and I spent the next two and a half years working as a program associate for its African department. This job took me overseas to Somalia and Kenya, and ultimately I decided that the non-profit arena was not for me. Returning to the United States, I encountered a tough job market, eventually finding an advertising sales position that was 100 percent commission.
Working out of the Westin Hotel in Washington, D.C. and selling advertising for the hotel map, and I made a cold call to William Bouweiri, owner of Reston Limousine Service, Inc., by thumbing through the yellow pages. He gave me an appointment, I sold him an ad, we started dating, and soon I quit my job to go work for him. Less than a year later, we married. It was a whirlwind courtship!
When I met William, the business had five cars and worked only with corporate clients. Early on, I saw the need to diversify and William agreed to allow me to try new markets. My first attempt was the wedding industry and soon Reston Limousine was handling 40 weddings a weekend. What we could not do with our vehicles we would "farm out" to other companies. Soon thereafter we entered government contracting. Reston Limousine did a good job and for the next five years we won every government contract in Washington, DC.
Today we have 150 vehicles and 300 employees. We have 12 market segments and our motto is "We never say no," and "Everyone is a customer." Reston Limousine handles wine tours, sightseeing, out of town trips, commuter shuttles. We have developed a worldwide affiliate network of limousine companies and we offer one-stop- shopping so customers can book a car anywhere in the world.
My husband and I worked side by side for ten years and then William decided to take time away from the business to oversee the construction of our custom home near Leesburg. He enjoyed this and managing the schedules of our four children, so a few months later, I told him not to come back to the company. Since then, William has been a stay-at-home dad and I run the business. I am happy to report that I have directed the growth of Reston Limousine, tripling our business in size!
Just out of college, I never would have predicted that I would become the CEO of the largest limousine service in Washington, D.C. However, this is the perfect job for me.
My international background is put to excellent use with my international clients and
employees, and I am fully trained in diplomatic protocol and high levels of customer service. I would advise college graduates to look at every job as a learning opportunity --eventually you will look back and see how all the pieces fit together to create the perfect career path for yourself.
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