You What?

Monica Senk, Corporate Counsel, Vice-President of Human Resources, Kelley Automotive Group, LLC
Aug 9, 2022
Tim Brumbeloe
You What?

Do you have a nickname?
Does mommy count? A few close friends call me Mo, but it is not widely used.

In what city did you grow up?
The Circus City! Peru, Indiana. I grew up wild in the country outside of town. Not completely wild, but definitely with ample freedom and lots of dirt, bugs and animals.

What famous person would you most like to meet?
I would love to meet Queen Elizabeth I. Any woman who can single-handedly rule England during the 16th and 17th centuries for 45 years, and do it on her own terms, is someone that I would not just want to meet, but also question for hours. Her savvy and intelligence is unrivaled, even in the current day.

What is your favorite part of your job?
The freedom to create. My boss, Tom Kelley, has always trusted in my vision and instincts. Although I am a lawyer by trade, and must therefore follow and enforce strict rules, my job as the in-house counsel and vice president of Human Resources for Kelley Automotive grants me opportunity after opportunity to imagine and then implement. I create policies, of course, but I also dream up and execute innovative initiatives that foster a positive employee-centric culture.

What is your greatest accomplishment?
My greatest accomplishment is raising three healthy, confident, compassionate, intelligent, empathetic and challenging young women.

Who is your hero?
My grandpa Ronald was my hero. He was a farmer and a man of very few words. In fact, we barely spoke when I was a child. He was just always a larger than life, all-knowing, kind presence in my life. He would help anyone who asked, without question or thought of repayment or recoupment. He worked dawn to dusk in the fields and then played softball into his late 70s with guys half his age. I never heard him say a negative word about another human being. He lived during the Great Depression and served in WWII, but never complained about either. 

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party (living, dead, famous, real or fictional)?
Jean Luc Picard, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Abraham Lincoln, John Candy and Daenerys Targaryen — I have some serious questions for her.

Who would you like to see perform in concert?
I had the opportunity several times to see the Grateful Dead in concert before Jerry Garcia died, and I didn’t go. I regret that decision now. I always thought I would go “the next year.”

Where will you go on your next vacation? 
My 20-year wedding anniversary is coming up in October, so hopefully some place exotic and far away (hint, hint). 

What’s one thing you can’t live without? 
My tiny container of crème brûlée Vaseline for my lips.

If you could give your 15 year-old self advice, what would it be?
Take it easy on the Aqua-net hairspray. Those pictures, and that hairstyle, will not age well.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Drink lots of water and wear your sunscreen.

What’s your biggest fear?
Honestly, doing anything that hurts my children. I want to set a good example and live a long, productive and happy life. I would not want to leave this world before they are fully grown and set on their future path.

What fad do you wish would come back or stay gone forever? 
I hope to never see the teased mile high bangs of the early ‘90s. They came on the heels of the fully-teased mane of the late 80s. The mane was an embarrassment, but at least it had some symmetry.

Do you have any guilty pleasures? 
I run our cat, August’s Instagram page! He’s a Scottish Fold so he is unusual looking and terribly cute. It started as a lark because my daughters’ friends fell in love with him and asked for more pictures and videos, but now I post pretty regularly. We’ve gotten up to nearly 10,000 views on one reel, so it has become my new hobby to find new themes for him. He is a very tolerant boy with all the posing and clothes! Check him out at @augustsenk. 

What would you do with your 15 minutes of fame? 
I would encourage young girls to understand the power they possess through their own sheer will and grit. If you want it badly enough, you can work and will it into existence. 

What is the first movie you ever saw in a theater?
“Smokey and the Bandit” in 1977 and it was a drive-in movie theater in Peru with my parents. 

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
I always knew I wanted to have a career that would allow me to be independent. I also knew I didn’t want to go to medical school. Being a lawyer fit my criteria and skill set, so I decided in high school that would be my path and I never looked back. 

What do you actually do at your job?  
I support the businesses of Kelley Automotive. I offer guidance where needed. I keep an eye on most things related to how we do business and how we treat our employees. I serve as the lawyer for in-house employment matters and compliance-related claims and issues. I write policies and procedures and train supervisors on their implementation. I create and follow through with initiatives that make Kelley Automotive a great place to work. I try to be a resource so that we are always able to do the right thing, even when it is the hard thing. Everyone has my cell phone and knows that they can contact me any time for support, 24/7. 

What is your biggest pet peeve? 
I am a grammar snob. It particularly curls my toes when people say, “I seen.” I have a PowerPoint that I created at work for new supervisors that reviews basic grammar and I tell them on the very first slide that they shouldn’t say, “I seen.” That having been said, I am sure that I have made some grammatical errors while answering these questions!

What book has had the greatest impact on you?
Many. Personally and professionally, “In My Own Words” by Ruth Bader Ginsburg inspired me with her pursuit of a career in a male-dominated industry while pushing for women’s rights and challenging the status quo, all while raising a family. Recently, I read “Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson regarding racism in our nation. The author is a historian and the fact-based analysis of the historical records put the past into focus in a way that I had not expected. I also love reading European historical fiction, so those books have fueled my curiosity to explore that continent, which I have been fortunate enough to do in the past decade. I love any Jane Austen book! I also devour audiobooks on a regular basis.

What profession would you never try? 
I could never be a mortician. My heart could not take it. I am very empathetic by nature. 

What three items would you want with you if you were stranded on a desert island (other than food and water)?
A picture of my family, sunscreen and a tarp (I burn very easily).

What does your workout regimen consist of? 
I have a fantastic personal trainer named Tara Schlie who I have worked out with for about eight years. She even stuck with me via Facetime during and after Covid. We do light weights and body-weight strength training. She is amazing. I hate cardio and she doesn’t make me do it! We are on a break now because I walk hours and hours on the golf course following my girls as they play in golf tournaments during the summer months. 

If you could solve one major problem, what would it be? 
I would make it so every person played by the same rules of engagement when it comes to conversations and debate. We can disagree, but there would be an acceptable way to present an issue, an acceptable way to disagree and an acceptable way of reaching a solution. Everyone would feel heard, feel safe during the discussion and understand that the solution was reached in a fair manner. 

What is the best gift you have ever been given? 
After my grandma’s passing, my mom and my aunt gifted me a diamond my grandma got from her second husband. He wasn’t my grandpa, but he was a gentle soul who influenced my life, and he died of cancer and left my grandma a widow for a second time when I was a child. She loved him and she loved that diamond. My mom and her sister could have kept it for themselves, but they chose to give it to me. I wear it everyday around my neck and think of both of them and their love for each other every day. 

If you hosted a talk show, who would be your first guest? 
Barack Obama. I have been fascinated with his intelligence and humor since I saw him deliver the speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. I know, it’s been done before, but I have SO MANY questions.

What would you choose as your last meal?
I would probably want some garden-fresh tomatoes with an assortment of good cheeses. A small glass of red wine would be nice. 

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? 
I want to see the pyramids and their hidden tombs in Egypt someday.

What do you love most about Fort Wayne?
The best part of Fort Wayne is that it is an extremely easy place to live. Traffic hardly exists. We have access to great schools. My grocery store is three minutes from my home. From a convenience standpoint, we have absolutely nothing to complain about. 

If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would you win a medal in?
Analysis of a problem and finding a solution. 

What skill would you like to master? 
I would love to learn how to do calligraphy. Or maybe just have pretty cursive penmanship. My skills with a pen are abysmal.

What was your first job? 
I worked in a flower shop when I was a teenager. I realized during that job that I was not cut out for retail, but that I had a passion for flowers and house plants!

What age do you wish you could permanently be and why? 
I would like to be physically 34, but emotionally right where I am!  n my mid-30’s I began taking good care of myself and was still fit. Now, I am not as fit, but am wiser and settled in who I am and who I should be going forward. Life lessons are priceless. If I could put my current self into my 34-year-old body, that would be alright with me. 

What was the last gift you gave someone?
I gave my assistant some really cool ceramic and twine hanging planters for her house. I do love houseplants!

What is the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten? 
My family used to buy the WHOLE cow when I was a kid. I’ve eaten it all. It was not at all strange then, but now tongue seems a bit odd. We also ate our fair share of frog legs and squirrel. 

Who was your first celebrity crush? 
Shaun Cassidy. He is now 63-years-old! I loved him when I was six. He was a tad younger then, also.   

What is the most productive time of day for you? 
I do best during the early afternoon hours. I am not an early bird and love to sleep. Mornings are like a small foray into hell for me. 

If you received enough money to never need to work again, what would you spend your time doing?
We would probably own a farm again stuffed full of animals and flowers and plants to care for. I would also have a staff to help, since I have so much money that I don’t need to work. I could afford a staff, right? We had the best hobby farm with dogs, cats, a horse and donkey, chickens, a driving range and putting greens in Whitely County that we sold five years ago because it was just too much work for us at the time. If I could spend my days in the barn or in the gardens again, I would be in heaven on earth.

What gets you excited and driven to achieve?
Data from research. Every time I read a study about what people find important or what impacts people, I want to do something with that information. I get a lot of my ideas at work from reviewing data gathered by study groups or institutions. When I put my time and effort into something, I want to know it has at least the possibility of succeeding or being impactful. I use data to get me on the right path. 

If you could go back in time, once, and change a single thing, what would it be?
I would like to go back to when my grandma took a prescription that caused her untimely death due to a drug allergy. I would stop her from doing that and then I would spend better quality time with her from that day forward. 

What moment in your life would you most like to go back and relive?
I would like to go back to when my grandparents were alive and have them tell me stories of their childhood and write them down. I would tell them how much I love and appreciate them.  I would give each of them a big hug and a kiss and take a long video with them so I could remember how they looked and moved and what they sounded like for the rest of my life.  

What do you collect?
My houseplants seem to continue to multiply. I love having green, growing life in my house. I wish I had more sunny windows so I could have more! I also have a lot of funny shaped salt and pepper shakers. I like white ceramic ones in the shapes of animals such as birds and hedgehogs. I am also drawn to round objects. That’s an odd one, no? I have all kinds of round items all over my house from decorative stone items to moss balls, to found objects — you name it. If it is spherical, I will find a place for it. 

When was the last time you cried and why?
I cried when I heard the names and ages of the children killed in the Uvalde, Texas school shooting. I can only imagine the horror and overwhelming grief of those parents. Just imagining it is traumatic. Living it must be unbearable. 

When were you happiest?
Right now! Life is good. My career couldn’t be better suited to me, my family is healthy and safe, and I am grateful for everyday on this earth. Living in the past or always waiting for a better future just wastes the fantastic day that I was allowed to live today.

What trait or habit in yourself do you deplore?
I need a lot of sleep and like to wake up to my own internal clock. I have friends who regularly run on 5-6 hours, and I just can’t do it.  

What is something that never fails to make you laugh?
I can’t stop myself from laughing when I watch videos of older babies or tiny children “explaining” something to an adult. The more sass, the more it cracks me up. I love a good eye roll or hand gesture from a toddler.

What is one important skill you think everyone should have? 
Everyone should be able to hold a civil conversation and LISTEN to the responses of others. Conversation can be in a traditional sense, or if the person has restrictions, in a non-traditional manner. Humans need to be able to relate to one another through conversation. We should ask others about themselves and their lives and really listen to the answers. The more we get to know each other, the more we learn, the more we understand and the more we grow. 

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