BABE #196: MEGAN BUSH DEL PIZZO: Vice President, Tom Bush Family of Dealerships
Megan is the Vice President at Tom Bush Family of Dealerships, a locally-owned, family-operated car dealership that’s been in the biz since 1970. After climbing the company ladder with her very first job as a File Clerk, her role today is vital to the growth and success of the business, and allows her to dabble in the many departments that keep a car dealership running (pun intended). It’s no secret that the automotive industry is heavily male-dominated, but Megan (and many other hustlin’ babes like her) are making moves and changing the game towards a more inclusive and diverse industry for all car lovers alike.
Babe you admire and why?
Katrin Casey, owner of KC Creative and the founder and chairwoman of Chemo Noir. Kat was my high school soccer coach and a mentor during those tough teenage years. In 2014, Kat was diagnosed with cancer. During her battle, Kat worked to have a positive attitude through it all, including labeling her wine nights “Chemo Noir.” Kat beat cancer and went on to create her nonprofit using wine tasting events to raise money for other “fighters.” What a powerful way to take an awful experience and use it to make an impact in someone else’s life!
How do you spend your free time?
I love exploring Northeast Florida with my little family. Even though I grew up in Jacksonville, so much has changed and it's beautiful to see the city through the eyes of my daughter. I also like checking out new restaurants with my girlfriends or on the occasional date night with my husband, Matt.
Go-to coffee order and/or adult beverage?
French 76 (or another beverage with bubbles).
What would you eat for your very last meal?
Green chili chicken enchiladas, made by my Momma. As a native New Mexican, she’s got some pretty special recipes, imports fresh Hatch green chilis from her home state and hosts an annual chili roasting party to stock up for the coming year.
What’s something most don't know about you?
I was born in Norway. My parents worked for an oil company that moved them to Europe in the early 80s. I had dual citizenship until I was 18 years old.
Tell us about your hustle.
I’m a fourth-generation car dealer and the vice president at Tom Bush Family of Dealerships. My first big responsibility at the stores was managing our marketing department and traditional media. In my previous career, I sold traditional advertising (print and radio), so this was a natural entry for me into the family business. My role has evolved to include a variety of projects in different departments, but I’m still very active with the marketing team. I also have a few side hustles, serving on the boards of the Florida Automobile Dealers Association and the Junior League of Jacksonville. These roles allow me to network outside of our stores and give back—a good balance for my work at the dealerships.
What does your typical workday look like?
I’m a big routine person! Mornings often begin with the early-bird class at Orangetheory Fitness and then getting my daughter, Sofia, ready for the day (my husband Matt is a big help!) TCB at the dealership for most of the day—meetings (so many meetings!), projects and traveling between our dealerships all over town. After work, I either head to a meeting, a happy hour or most often, home to make dinner with Matt and spend some QT with Sofia before she goes to sleep.
What sets Tom Bush apart from other dealerships?
There’s a massive consolidation movement among car dealerships right now. Giant, publicly traded companies are acquiring as many stores as they can. Being a locally-owned and family-operated car dealership group sets us apart from our competition. We understand our customers and our market better than these conglomerates because we’re active members of the community (and have been since 1970). Our employees are like family, and many are actually related to each other. We employ fathers and sons, husbands and wives—we truly are a family of dealerships.
What’s been your biggest career milestone?
My biggest milestone was going back to work after giving birth to my daughter. I wasn’t sure what the working mom thing would be like for me, especially in the car business. But, as many women discover upon returning work, I’ve become more productive at the office—because who wants to go home and do work after the kids have gone to bed? Also, I’m more empathetic and understanding, especially to our employees’ needs. Need some time off to take care of your kiddos? I get it now, more than ever.
How has being a woman affected your professional experience?
Once in a while, a businessperson will focus on my brother or father regarding a matter in our business that’s my responsibility—or they’ll mansplain something to me. But, it’s rare and I don’t give it much more thought than an eye roll and a shrug. Most people don’t treat me any differently for being a woman. Also, my boss is my dad. He’s done an admirable job making our work as fair and equal as he can for everyone. His approach has fostered a sense of teamwork, rather than competition, for me and my brother.
What’s the gender ratio like in your industry? Do you see it evolving?
The automotive business has long been male-dominated. Our dealership has been focused on creating a diverse workforce for many years, because there is strength in diversity (both gender diversity and otherwise). Consumers are armed with tools that enable them to review and select the salespeople they want to work with, and we want to ensure our employees appeal to a diverse car-buying population. The gender ratio is getting more balanced, but we still have a long way to go.
Who are some women in your field you look to for inspiration?
Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors (GM). She is the first female CEO of a major automotive manufacturer. She started working at GM as a student when she was 18 years old and is now leading this corporate giant into the future. Trudy Hardy, vice president of marketing for BMW North America. As a BMW dealer, I get to see her work firsthand and have had the opportunity to meet her. She has played an important role in making BMW one of the most valuable brands in the United States.
What advice would you give to a babe trying to break into your industry?
The auto retailing business is exciting, fast-paced and changing more now than it has in the last 100 years. My advice to anyone looking to get into our business is to keep learning. There are a million directions and roles you can take in our business, and the more you know, the more doors of opportunity will open to you.
What motivates and inspires you?
My family, especially my daughter. I want Sofia to see her mother as a boss and to demonstrate to her that women can take on leadership roles at work and still be an active and engaged family member. There are sacrifices you have to make as a working mom, because time is scarce. But she inspires me to work towards being a great mom and a strong leader at Tom Bush and in my community.
What is your philosophy on work-life balance? What helps you wind down and manage stress?
Self-care and alone time is critical. My husband is a great partner and a huge help with caring for our daughter and managing our household. So, at least once a week I’m able to catch a class at Yoga Mix, schedule a massage or just go shopping by myself.
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
Be prepared but also be flexible. Preparation enables efficiency, but things often don’t go as planned. It’s critical to be able adapt to whatever the world throws your way. You don’t get to decide what challenges come to your desk, but you decide how you are going to deal with it.
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