Life Happens Fast


By  Steve Hernandez, CAPP

NOTE: This blog was republished with permission from the MSTPA website blog.  

If you are new to our industry or are a young professional trying to establish yourself within your organization, I hope you find this post valuable…

It is hard to accept, but recently I celebrated my 20-year anniversary of being in the parking industry. Throughout my career I have always enjoyed moments of reflection that either helped me make career altering decisions or to appreciate my mentors, friends (and foes), and certainly my clients that helped me along the way. Despite being a 20-year veteran, I still feel very young with a lot more to achieve along the way. While I know I am transitioning into a different stage of my career, I feel some level of responsibility to help the young professionals that are trying to establish their careers within our dynamic industry.

I was raised by two incredible parents that provided my sisters and me everything we needed, but rarely what we wanted. Today, I am supported by my amazing wife of 20 years, Emily, and two talented children; Sydney (19) and Alex (16). As you can tell by the timeline, life happened fast following my UNC-Wilmington graduation. As a result, career decisions were often made in the moment or with little time to process. Early on my competitiveness and desire to be right often got in the way of my success or ability to get a win-win solution. I went through some very difficult times early in my career that were compounded with having a young family…nevertheless, I had to learn to persevere, because I knew they rightfully depended on me.

At some point, I knew I had to adjust in how I worked with my peers, employees, and even my bosses in order to achieve the expectations I had for myself. In addition, I had to learn how to balance the responsibilities I had to my employer and my clients. No doubt this took time, maturity, and the realization that I cannot control everything regardless of how much I wanted to.

While I may not have realized it at the time, I was fortunate to have a few people looking out for me at various points throughout my career. Upon reflection, it is with their help, and the support of my family, that my career started to progress in ways that I had hoped.

To the young and emerging parking professionals, I ask that you take a moment to reflect on these thoughts that helped me reshape my career:

  • Truth over loyalty. Stay true to who you are, not who someone wants you to be or thinks you should be. Surround yourself with people who appreciate you for you and loyalty will come.
  • Know your value. Be proud of what you have achieved and seek fair compensation, but also understand your organization is much bigger than one person.
  • Celebrate your peers and give thanks. Today more than ever, find happiness in the success of others and go out of your way to simply say “thank you” to those who helped you along the way.
  • Learn from everyone. I have worked for and alongside some of the best in the industry and others who created some very challenging times. However, each and every one of them taught me something that contributed to my personal growth.
  • Organizational culture cannot go underrated. Make no mistake, you play a role in creating an amazing work environment or to be part of a bigger problem. Take control of your environment and make every effort to have a positive influence on others.

It really is remarkable how quickly 20 years can produce some lasting memories, friendships, and even heartaches. As your career begins to take shape, harness the moments and bonds that will serve as your foundation for future success.

To Robert, Doreen, Randy, Tiffany, Tony, Brad, Chris, Carmen, Brian, Roamy, Mike, Tom, Cindy, Eugene, Hans, MSTPA, Todd, YRC, Mike, Barbara, Jeff, and the countless others  thank you for having an impact on my 20-year career.

 Steve Hernandez, CAPP, is vice president of governmental & institutional services, The Car Park.