15 years from MT to GM
Like many employees, Bridget Long had not planned on a career in car rental when she was offered a place on the Management Training programme in 2000.
She graduated from Fairfield University in Connecticut with a degree in American Studies, plus a concentration in Sociology and Black African-American Studies. After graduation she volunteered as a teacher in Belize for one year and her plan was to go to law school. Instead she returned home with the travel bug and applied for airline cabin crew jobs. Luckily she was also an employee referral to Enterprise.
Bridget started at a seven-day location in downtown Chicago. “I LOVED it. We were busy and I was always learning new things. I am incredibly competitive so an environment that allowed me to showcase my individual skills while also working in a team was fantastic. Of course there were some challenging days but the good days far outweighed those.”
Bridget worked her way up quickly and by 2003 she was an area manager. She worked in the home city and at O’Hare Airport before her promotion in 2006 to regional rental manager in Group 41, South Florida. She worked in four different regions in Group 41 with the last being at Miami International Airport, in addition to overseeing the integration of the tri-brands, National, Alamo and Enterprise. Bridget was promoted to regional vice president in Group 45, Seattle in 2011 and two and a half years later to vice president of rental for Group 23, San Francisco group. Fast forward to September 2015 and Bridget was promoted again to vice president/ general manager of Group U1, Southeast England.
“It’s been an amazing journey. Looking back, it is clear that I have been prepared to take big risks, relocations and to embrace new opportunities. I never knew this is the woman I wanted to be or the person I was capable of becoming. The Taylor family along with some incredible men and women along the way helped me to identify how passionate I am about being a strong leader able to help drive and motivate a team to achieve great things.”
“In my first region I was the only woman amongst 29 other branch managers. I worked for the company for nine years before I had a female boss. Watching how beautifully she managed her work and her personal life, I realised the incredible value of a female role model. Her perspective helped me understand it was up to me to achieve the work-life quality I wanted.”
Finding work life balance is important. Sometimes I have struggled. I needed perspective to realise that it was up to me to achieve the work life balance that I wanted to.
Bridget’s advice to other ambitious women is to make sure you find your voice: work hard to identify what you need and want, and don’t be afraid to discuss your needs. “I have incredibly high expectations of the people around me that work on our team, and of myself. I have learned over time to find and insert my voice so that together we can accomplish great things.”