Flint Native Focused on Fashion Startup and GM Career: February’s aMaizeing Alumni

Alumnus, Lee Allen, earned his Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from the University of Michigan-Flint in 2014. During his time as a student, he was involved with Greek Life, Black Student Union, and studied abroad in China. Lee is the owner of Bau-house located in Downtown Flint and a business analyst at General Motors. Through entrepreneurship, he is able to express his creativity in fashion and educate others on brand development. As a role model within the Flint community, he was selected to be featured in the Sons: Seeing the Modern African American Male at the Flint Institute of Arts. As our featured alumni of the month, Lee explains his passion for two industries – fashion and automotive, his life as an entrepreneur and working at GM, gives advice on the importance of internships during college.

Q: Degree(s) and graduation year:
A:
Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) 2014
Organizational and supply chain management (M.S) from another institution

Q: Were you involved in any clubs or extracurriculars during your college experience? If so, what organizations/clubs?
A:
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., NPHC, and Black Student Union

Q: Where are you currently working and your title? How long have you been in this position or at this organization? What is your job like day to day?
A:
I am currently a business analyst at General Motors located at our headquarters in Detroit, Michigan. I have worked at General Motors for almost 7 years holding a variety of positions. I’m also a proud entrepreneur within downtown Flint, operating a brick-and-mortar space: Bau-house. Bau-house is a lifestyle retail store that focuses on curating streetwear, sneakers, and art. The store also places a heavy emphasis on fashion and design education through our brand development workshops.

My job as a business analyst is to review and manage budgets for US manufacturing facilities. As it relates to day-to-day tasks, crunching numbers is the name of the game to find cost-saving opportunities for GM manufacturing sites. I love my 9-5, I work on a diverse team, and I get the opportunity to travel.

Once my day has ended with General Motors, I feed my design and retailing passion! Bau-house allows me to express my creativity and indulge in the world of fashion. It brings forth the opportunity to support my city from an economic development standpoint as well. Currently, the store is under renovation, so I am painting walls, designing clothing, selecting fixtures, planning interior layouts, and sourcing products in preparation for a soft opening in April or May of 2022.

Q: Why did you choose to go into the career path you are currently in?
A:
Growing up I had a passion surrounding two industries – fashion and automotive. At one point in my life, I stated that I would not work in the automotive industry because everyone in my family worked for General Motors. I had my mindset on working for a fashion house or a global retail chain. I made the decision based on where I landed my internship for my senior year of college. My internship at Inteva products LLC fueled my drive towards the automotive industry and introduced me to General Motors. Once I became confident in my position at GM, I set my sights on fulfilling my love for fashion and retailing by opening my own space. It is my vision that this space will become a creative hub for design enthusiasts.

Q: Why did you choose to attend UM-Flint for your degree?
A:
My family always thought that the University of Michigan offered the best level of education. I originally selected UM-Flint as a steppingstone to get on the campus of Ann Arbor. After about two years of attending classes at UM-Flint, I had a change of heart related to leaving. I was won over by the amazing culture surrounding student life, the support of professors, and the administration alike.

Q: Share your best college memory
A:
My best college memory and life experience was going to China. My original major was international business, and it was a requirement to either secure an internship or study abroad. I had already landed an internship, but I wanted to travel and see the world. Going to China was a life-changing experience for me because it taught me how to appreciate my culture and country. Plus, I had the opportunity to travel with one of my favorite cousins, LaTresha Reed. She is a proud graduate of UM-Flint School of Management as well.

Q: What is the most important thing you learned while you were at UM-Flint? 
A:
One of the most important things I learned at UM-Flint is that real-life experience is the true professor. No matter what class I attended within the school of management, each professor stresses the importance of applied work experience. Projects were always geared towards real companies and solving active problems within those companies. The hands-on experience via internships and projects helped me to develop professional skill sets and business acumen that course textbooks could not teach. I learned that the more work experience I gained the better equipped I’ll be for my future career.

Q: What advice would you give current students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in your professional field?
A:
My only advice would be to gain as much hands-on experience as possible via internship and/or co-op opportunities. I cannot express enough the importance of real-life work experience during a student’s undergraduate journey.

Q: What is one of your proudest accomplishments so far?
A:
One of my proudest accomplishments thus far in my life is becoming a father and husband. My daughter drives my motivation for success in everything that I do. Recently I was selected to be a part of an exhibit within the Flint Institute of Arts titled, Sons: Seeing the Modern African American Male. The FIA was the first museum I was introduced to as a child and to have my picture hanging on the walls, I was left speechless. It was an awesome experience to be able to share that moment with my family. As it relates to my career, it would be landing a role at General Motors headquarters.

Q: Fun Facts!
A:
I went to elementary school, high school, and college in Flint. I am a proud graduate of the Flint educational system, a true Flintstone =) !

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