IAA's Chief Client Officer, Don Hermanek, demonstrates investing in the future through voluntarism specifically through his involvement with the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), and most recently spoke to more than 200 students in the UIC Business Scholar program on professionalism, integrity and community.

Don Hermanek on Voluntarism: Why Give Back

As the auto industry continues to evolve at the rate of the latest technological advancement, so too does the need for a skilled and innovative workforce. Forward thinking companies are already identifying new recruiting practices and new talent development partnerships.  Here at IAA, Chief Client Officer Don Hermanek demonstrates investing in the future through voluntarism specifically through his involvement with the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and his dedication to developing the potential of students entering the workforce. Through his experience, he has three principles to help guide others on volunteering: remember where you came from, share your stories, and give back.

Remember Where You Came From

It is a point of pride to sustain the goodness of education and to share the advantages a degree from UIC provides. Recently, Don and his family were fortunate to be able to establish the Hermanek Family Foundation Scholarship. The inaugural recipient is a young immigrant who will now be able to attend UIC.

“My involvement with UIC goes back a long time. I was enrolled there as an undergraduate, the 1st generation of my family to go to college. My grandparents were immigrants and I came from a family of modest means,” Don recalls. “So in 1966, I enrolled as a double major in marketing and management. I worked my way through college at a Goodyear tire store and graduated in 1970; I didn’t have a lot of time after college to do much except pursue my career.” Recently, Don returned to UIC in late August to share his story to over 200 students in the UIC Business Scholars program and offer his advice on professionalism, integrity and community.

Share Your Stories – Successes and Failures

One experience that has stood out to Don throughout the years is his involvement in the UIC College of Business program, “Executives in the Classroom”. The goal of this program was to combine higher education with practical experience by bringing executives into the classroom to share their business experiences. Students then completed case studies on some of the companies that participated, including IAA.

Stories are an important part of learning, Don shares. “As we go through our lives and careers, we accumulate a tremendous amount of knowledge, beyond formal education. It comes from experience, successes and our personal failures that we rise above. And if we can share this knowledge, we can help them be successful and maybe avoid the pitfalls and mistakes we have had. By sharing our knowledge, time and financial wherewithal. Whatever we have gained, we owe it back to others to share our success (and failures) and we it owe it to help others be successful in the same manner.”

Give Back

Voluntarism in your industry or your community doesn’t come in just one form. Mentoring a colleague or partnering in your workplace in a committee can be a positive and engaging way to connect in your workplace. Look for chances to volunteer with your company, such as joining a shared charitable cause like a fundraiser or working with a student intern program like the Cristo Rey Work Study Program on which Bill Davidson, VP of Human Resources at IAA, reflected recently.  Supporting organizations and working to boost their programs, engagement or funding can be equally impactful towards building the future workforce. Industry organizations IAA supports, such as I-CAR, the Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF), and SkillsUSA often have local opportunities and chapters to engage in and many work with students pursuing a career related to the auto industry.

As Don advises us all to get involved, he reflects on the impact voluntarism has had on his life: “I can truly say, the sharing and the giving back, there is nothing that is more satisfying and rewarding in both my personal and professional life.” The career Don built, beginning with his time at IBM and now as Chief Client Officer at IAA, has led him to many years of volunteer service within in the organization, the industry and the community. The positive impact Don has left is a legacy of a man who shares his compassion and knowledge in order to leave a strong foundation and a prepared future workforce who will build industries and strong careers for years to come.

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