"May You Live In Interesting Times". This is the first of three Chinese curses of increasing severity. The other two are "May You Come To The Attention Of Those In Authority" and "May You Find What You Are Looking For". Someone must have placed them on me when I graduated from O'Rafferty over 50 years ago. Most of us understand the roller coaster ride we have been on for the last five decades. We've had some unbelievable highs and some crushing lows. But one thing that has been constant throughout all these years has been the wonderful people that have made this life experience such an enjoyable trip.
My journey began the day after graduation when I went to work at Fisher Body working the night shift through the summer. This would be a constant through my college years as I work every summer in the local factories and even during my senior year to earn college money. The money was good but it impressed upon me that this was not the type of life I wanted to live. The subsequent fall I enrolled in Michigan State University and eventually earned a BA in Financial Administration (I later earned an MBA from Wayne State University). Upon graduation I moved to the Detroit area and began working at Manufacturers Bank in the Branch Banking System. This endeavor came to a climatic end eight years later when I was involve in a horrific bank robbery where one of my colleagues was shot in the face and I was marched around with a gun to my head, fully knowing I could not provide access to the money in the vault they were intent on taking. I'm a relatively fast learner and quickly changed careers.
I was fortunate to find new employment with Volkswagen of America. I began in Finance but eventually moved into Marketing where I became the Market Planning Manager. Unfortunately, VW experienced some very difficult times and was forced to undergo a severe reduction in work force and funding. Things were so bad that the Audi division, with sales of only 12,500 annually following the "Unintended Acceleration" witch hunt on 60 Minutes, was on the verge of pulling out of North America. We were given one last chance and I was chosen to be among a group of only 13 to resurrect the brand. With so few people we all wore multiple hats but I was responsible for Strategic Planning. We were a close-knit group that worked extremely hard and really bonded. It was a tumultuous few years but we succeeded in grand style. We still refer to that period as our Camelot experience. The VP of Audi was subsequently named the President of the Volkswagen Group and I followed him as his assistant head of Strategic Planning for the Group. When he eventually retired I moved over to Volkswagen Credit and assumed a similar position, acting as a sort of Chief of Staff and Assistant while coordinating the various departments and taking on assignment that didn't easily fit into some of the more traditional areas. My experience with VW and Audi provided me with a tremendous opportunity to travel extensively in Germany, the US, Canada, and Mexico. That being said, if I never get on a plane again it won't be soon enough. I retired from VW in 2008 after 30 years of service.
I quickly discovered that retirement lacked
the necessary intellectual challenges that I crave. I set up
my own consulting firm and have spearheaded or contributed to
numerous business ventures including:
My personal life has been blessed with a wonderful wife, Jacqueline, two sons and six grandchildren. My wife is extremely accomplished in her own career. She earned a Ph.D. from Wayne State University and has taught physical therapy at Wayne State, the University of Michigan Flint and Oakland University (where she is currently teaching). She is internationally known for her research and work with oncology patients.
In my spare time I like to cook healthy meals, attend my grand kids' events, and run (unfortunately I'm not as consistent at running as I would like). I'm an avid reader, although lately I've opted to listening to audio books. My interest in music is varied, but my favorites are Bob Seger, Lady Antebellum, Luciano Pavarotti, Katherine Jenkins, and Jessye Norman.
I'm also fortunate to live only a few miles from Colombiere Center. Colombiere was formerly a Jesuit seminary but is now Conference & Retreat Center, and most importantly a retirement home for Jesuit priests and brother. This has allowed me to get to mass most days and to develop wonderful relationships with the religious living there.
I would like to close by wishing all my classmate
my best wishes and may all of you live in interesting times.
Jacqueline & Joe Drouin