Texas Border Business
As originally published in Texas Border Business newsprint edition March 2020
Bert Ogden Auto Group and the Rio Grande Valley celebrate one of their own as Valley Native, Natasha del Barrio, CEO of the Bert Ogden Auto Group, was honored in Las Vegas as a recipient of Automotive News’ 40 Under 40 Awards.
40 Under 40 recognizes the top 40 Automotive professionals in the nation under 40 years old.
Natasha began her career with Bert Ogden, while still in high school, as a part-time marketing assistant working 10 hours a week.
Natasha jokes that it took her a while to figure out that it probably cost her more in gas money to get to work than she was making (working so few hours), but she immediately fell in love with the dealership and all the great people working there.
Over the years, Natasha had the opportunity to dabble in all the different areas of the dealership before completing college and going to work for Citigroup and then JP Morgan Chase. While still at Bert Ogden, Natasha developed firm relationships and mentorships with key company executives, including Bob and Janet Vackar, who have always been in her corner.
Natasha and Mr. Vackar never lost contact and often discussed the day when she would return to the Auto Group. After the birth of her first child, ignited the desire to travel less and be home more, the time was ripe for both Natasha and Mr. Vackar to decide she would return to the group. Initially, she began working on estate management and real estate planning.
But as quoted in her feature with Automotive News, Natasha says that she “lacked the capacity to mind [her] own business,” if a problem arose, she had to address it. This characteristic quickly pulled her into the operational end of the auto business, where she could lend her past experiences and degree in business.
As this role developed, Natasha took on large scale projects to streamline and centralize processes, integrate dealerships and departments. She is working overall to transform the group into a Corporate Conglomerate.
Her leadership has guided the group toward these objectives, and also to nine consecutive months of record-breaking performance. It’s early in the year, but if the last nine months are any indication of where the group is going, it will be the strongest year ever for the group, she told Texas Border Business. It’s no wonder that Natasha has received this top ranking in the industry.
Asked about the best part of traveling to Las Vegas to receive this award, Natasha stated, “Family! This has always been a family-oriented company, but to me, the Bert Ogden Family really is Family. So, to be able to enjoy this recognition alongside my Bert Ogden Family was such a privilege. But the real joy was to celebrate this moment in the presence of my three children!”
Roberto confirmed, “So your kids got to go as well?” To which Natasha responded, “That’s a big part of why I love this place so much… To the Vackars, it was never a question of if my children would be traveling with me to the event, it was just an expectation that this is what family does and how they celebrate together! Bob even offered to babysit while I was in sessions at NADA!”
In asking what Natasha’s kids thought of the recognition she shared, “We didn’t know what to expect at the event, but (Natasha laughed) evidently there was some heavy prayer going on that indeed a physical award would be presented…evidently, Connor was dying to see the award. When I came out of the auditorium to see my kids, Connor literally jumped into my arms, congratulating me and then ran off with the award; it was super cute! Ethan shocked me when he asked why there were so many men getting awards – from the mouths of babes!”
This profound observation from her son led me to ask her what she thought of the gender gap in this business. She said, “Well, clearly, I don’t think about it enough. Being with the Vackars as long as I have, I suppose I have just adopted so much of their outlook on the matter.”
She continued, “In college, it wasn’t a question whether or not I would get my master’s degree; it was their gentle expectation that I would. When I left to work for the bank, there was no question of whether or not I could be successful at that; they just expected I would be. And within the walls of their organization, their support and encouragement of me and honestly, all staff members, never even allowed the thought to creep into my mind that there could be a limitation on me because of my gender. But hearing that comment from my son, coupled with a few other conversations over the years, has made me very aware of the beautiful bubble I’m in at Bert Ogden, where gender is meaningless, and everything is based on the person who can best get the job done. Women fill nearly half of our leadership roles, and to date, we have over 300 women employed. I’m quite grateful for that bubble because I know that the attitude it has created in me will go on to empower and create opportunities for many more women just as the Vackars have for me and so many more,” Natasha finalized.