After graduating from Valparaiso University, Karam Juneja joined Enterprise in 2002 as a Management Trainee with the Chicago Operating Group. Like many employees, he loves Enterprise’s culture – the support from his mentors, the teamwork, and the entrepreneurial spirit that has allowed him to work his way up the ranks and around the world.
Today, he’s Vice President of European Operations – and a true Enterprise success story. But the path he took hasn’t always been a straight line. Here, he tells us a little bit about it all.
You were born and raised in New Delhi, India. What was it like growing up there, and what brought you to the United States?
Culturally, it was very different! Growing up in India shaped the person I am today and set me up to relate to and adapt to people from different backgrounds and cultures. I grew up in a very tight knit family setup with most everyone around me being business entrepreneurs. This fueled my desire from a very early age to explore the world of business and motivated me to take charge of my own career. I applied to colleges all around the world and was fortunate to get an academic scholarship to Valparaiso University, where I majored in finance.
You have lived and worked in several countries with vastly different and unique cultures. What are some of the lessons you’ve learned from that experience, and how has it affected your views on inclusion and diversity in the workplace and society today?
Since joining Enterprise, I have experienced six different operating groups globally, which has been extremely rewarding! As a company we run our businesses differently in various countries to adapt to local conditions, but our company culture and values remain the same. Our employees speak different languages but chase the same goals in the same core areas, day in and day out.
Diversity is a critical component of success. For me, diversity goes beyond race; as a leader, I have found that the best ideas come from people with different perspectives. We win as an organization when everyone is empowered to voice new ideas, even if they challenge the way we have done things in the past. Also, a diverse workforce is essential to connecting with our diverse customer base.
Your career path is rather unique. After starting out as a Management Trainee, you eventually became Area Manager in Chicago, then Regional Rental Manager in San Francisco followed by Regional Vice President in Southern California. But then you made the jump across the pond to Europe. What first attracted you to Enterprise, and what advice would you give employees who might be considering a new role or moving to a new country?
No success story is ever a straight line to the top, and mine is no different. As for advice, I’ll share what guides me:
Invest: It’s all about investing in our greatest asset: our people! Working hard every day is critical, but in order to generate momentum, you need a team of engaged people who are working towards a common goal.
Be Hungry for Success: Success is making sure you compete, every day. The scoreboard tends to take care of itself when the effort is there.
Be Humble: Be humble in your personal success. This is a team sport!
Find the Silver Lining: Every failure is temporary and has a learning moment that comes with it. Learn from it and then use it to fuel the next big success!
I have received so much good advice throughout my career, but they all had one thing in common – having a mentor. There is no substitute for a good mentor who can challenge you and pick you up when you need it most. Having a mentor is what led me to my international roles, which have been great for me and my family professionally and personally!
What excites you about the future for Enterprise?
As we reshape who we are as an organization, the future is brighter than ever. The current COVID-19 crisis and how we have handled it, has once again shown the tremendous talent we have in the field with the best leaders in the industry to guide it. There are many new exciting initiatives on the horizon, and I am excited to see them in action. This coupled with the ongoing support of the Taylor family means we are going to keep raising the bar!
In our ongoing series of “Five Question” blogs, we recently sat down with Jane Hylen, Senior Vice President of Southeast Operations, to chat about her thoughts on leadership, her new role, and what advice she has to share from her 30 year career at Enterprise.