5 minutes with Allison Chisenhall-Harding, COO, Vintage Air
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From time to time, our editorial team selects an aftermarket industry professional to get to know each other better. Attendees are invited to answer a series of questions that can be answered in about the same time you might spend chatting at the office coffeemaker or waiting for an elevator. In this episode of “5 Minutes With” we get to know Allison Chisenhall-Harding, chief operating officer of Vintage Air.
Harding has a chemical engineering degree and is passionate about cars. When not optimizing manufacturing and production at Vintage Air, you can find her cruising in her 1957 Chevrolet Corvette. She recently received the Richard F. and Eleanor A. Towner Award. In addition to chairing the Resource Committee of the SEMA Business Women Network, she is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt graduate.
What was your first job in the industry?
So my first job in the auto industry was with Vintage Air, actually. I graduated from college and got into cancer research first, then defense. It wasn’t until three years ago that I joined Vintage Air, first as a manufacturing engineer, then moved to design and then into the role I currently occupy.
What do you like most about your current job?
I like to work with people. I think a lot of people who are engineers don’t always feel that way. When I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do and noticed that I liked working with people, I thought it was quite unique and I had to figure out how to fit it into a role as engineer. I’m also very keen on getting things done quickly, especially with the production, which I work with. Most of the time you have to release the product like now which gives you motivation and a way to focus back on the right track again.
Did you originally intend to pursue a career in the aftermarket? If not, what drew you to the industry and what is holding you back here?
Well, I kind of grew up in this industry. All my life I went to auto shows as a kid. That’s exactly what we did, so I’ve always had that interest. It’s just a really unique industry, because it’s about people’s hobbies, which I think is cool.
What do you do when you are not at work?
At the moment, I am working on my Master [degree], so it takes most of my free time. But when I’m doing fun things I like to travel with my friends and family. I like to stay really active. We always go hiking or cycling or to fitness classes. I like to cook too.
Which word best describes your personality?
I really think it would be energized. I always understand that people refer to me as the word. I don’t really know how to quit.
What was your first car?
The first was a 1956 Thunderbird. I got it when I was 16. He was in terrible shape. I was driving with my friends to the mall and halfway through it would die. So I had a really good experience early in life of why people like to upgrade their old cars.
If you could time travel where and when would you like to visit?
I love the clothes and style of 50s women’s clothing. I’m obsessed with how it looks, but I don’t think my slightly feminist personality would have. [back then]. I think maybe for me traveling in advance would have been better.
Favorite quote / mantra / motto?
My favorite quote is, âIf you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. You want to surround yourself with people smarter than you, or more educated or more experienced, just so that you are always learning.