IBL senior Lyla Mathieu at the wheel of a 1937 BMW 327 sport Coupé, part of a collection she helped manage.

Cool Co-op at BMW

Overseeing logistics of classic cars made the experience zoom by.

Lyla Mathieu likely was born with a wrench nearby.

Mathieu, a senior in International Business and Logistics, has been around cars nearly all her life, as her father owns a body shop in which she began to participate as part of the business when she was 15. “I just fell in love with cars,” she says, “and about the same time I spent a year living and attending high school in Germany.”

During that experience, she became interested in a particular kind of car—BMW, based in Germany since its inception in 1916. Her passion for the cars started a gear that has been turning ever since, and led to a successful six-month co-op with the prestigious manufacturer in Munich, Germany.

“Her background, personality, experience and prowess for being a true professional exemplifies the entirety of the IBL program,” says Don Maier, Ph.D., Dean and Professor, Loeb-Sullivan School of International Business & Logistics.

Mathieu’s co-op involved assisting in transportation logistics for automobile events held around the world. BMW owns some 1,400 show vehicles in its collection that were displayed in more than 250 events last year.

“An example might be an event in Italy,” says Mathieu. “They would ask for particular cars in the collection for certain dates. It was my job to assist in getting those cars ready, working out customs and transportation, air freight, costs, and creating quotes and estimates for the host company.”

She also helped with vehicles used for changing exhibits in BMW’s museum, which in 2016 involved the company’s centennial celebration.

“It was my job to keep track of that fleet and make sure they were sound and road-worthy,” says Mathieu. “I was able to drive around 300 antique BMWs,” which was a great perk, but more important was the appreciation that was acknowledged for her work ethic. “I’ve always been pretty focused on what I want and what I need to do to get there,” she says.

“The experience gave me a different perspective on corporate culture, especially German culture and how they value hard work,” says Mathieu.

“As an American, the expectation was that I wouldn’t have the same standards, but I love to work. The job was only supposed to be 35 hours a week. I worked 60, and it showed them I was in it wholeheartedly.”

The best part of the experience was “the trust they ensured in me,” she says.

“My boss asked if I could drive antique vehicles (some of which are priceless), and I said, ‘Yes—absolutely. I have my whole life.”

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