Northeast Metro Business VHEDC 2018 | Page 33

MARY BUERKLE-GRANT DON’T BE SHY ABOUT COMMUNICATING CAREER ASPIRATIONS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS. M Regardless of a woman’s career-choice, when it comes to success Buerkle-Grant, a VHEDC Board Member, urges, “Seek out classes in your field. Keep up to date with developments in your industry at a level equal to or ahead of your peers. Don’t be shy about communicating your career aspirations and accomplishments. Utilize mentors. And, remember a career is never assured nor guaranteed. Overcoming adversity is part of the normal career progress.” Buerkle Honda-Hyundai Company, Vadnais Heights; ary Buerkle-Grant, of Buerkle Motor Group – which includes Buerkle Honda-Hyundai Co. in Vadnais Heights – is in an exclusive group: In the U.S. auto industry, few women are executive officers or company owners. So, how did Buerkle-Grant arrive where she is today? Well, for one thing, she grew up in the industry. She and her brother, Dave, inherited their company – a family-owned business since 1953 – from their father, Bill. Buerkle-Grant says, “In 1982, I graduated from Hamline University with the goal of being an urban planner, but those jobs were scarce at the time, so I began working for my father as a cashier in the service department. I progressed in administrative positions, the expected career positions for women in that industry. Being an extrovert, I wanted to be on the floor with customers, who I loved, so I told my father I wanted to sell cars. He had to think about it; back then, women didn’t sell cars. My mother was my cheerleader … She convinced him to let me do it as ‘an experiment.’ “This was a time of growth for fuel-efficient, imported cars, and I was very successful. When we opened a second operation in Brooklyn Park, I became the sales manager. I learned to hire and manage people and work in the context of a new business, which is more ambiguous than a highly-established business. That role enabled me to advance as a manager. I also participated in numerous training and development programs locally and within the industry – including the General Motors Institute, which did not enroll very many women then.” Buerkle-Grant is proud of her many professional accomplishments, including the continued expansion of her company in revenues, building, locations and increased personnel. She says her greatest leadership strength is being collaborative: “I like to work with a team, get input from varied team members and engage teams in whatever process we’re involved in. I’m especially proud of our company’s ability to develop and retain employees; we have many managers with 20-plus years of experience, as well as many dedicated employees – including numerous second-generation employees. “We’ve received numerous recognitions for service and business excellence from Honda, Acura, Hyundai and, in the past, from General Motors. Of particular note is the Honda President’s Award. Additionally, we’ve been recognized since 2015 with the Honda Environmental Leadership Award.” JACKIE O’CONNELL COLLEGE INTERN WHO QUICKLY ROSE TO THE VERY TOP J ackie O’Connell, President and CEO of IPS CRANES – formerly IPS Worldwide – in Vadnais Heights and Duluth, grew up on a farm and had an affinity for tractors and large equipment. As a young child, she was self-sufficient, had a creative imagination and was a problem-solver. She began attending college classes when she was in high school. At Augsburg College, she majored in International Business with a concentration in Japanese language. The summer before her senior year in 1995, she interned for IPS, quickly impressed her boss and was offered a part-time position during the school year. Most likely, she would’ve progressed to working full-time days for IPS after graduation … except she received a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Japan. After that, she worked for an import-export company which satisfied a desire for travelling abroad. A year later, O’Connell began her ascent to the top of IPS, when the owner Tom Holly, founder of IPS, called her with an offer she couldn’t refuse … to return to IPS and eventually become his successor. In 2001, O’Connell worked on the company’s first major acquisition – purchasing the American and Ohio Locomotive Crane assets of Ohio Industries, which made IPS a full-line OEM manufacturer and service provider. O’Connell was instrumental in the growth of the company, leading the way for business development as well as acquisitions. By 2013, she was the President and CEO of IPS Worldwide. 33