Richard Hellenbrecht



I started at the PONYA like most entry level young men fresh out of high school, in a clerical aide (C8) position. For $69/week I counted bridge & tunnel scrip in the Accounting Division. They started me on July 5 so they wouldn’t have to pay me the holiday. This is probably a position that doesn’t even exist anymore, but it was a good starting place. It was a mix of hard work and fun, but it didn’t last more than a few months, as I promoted into records management and quickly moved from C10 to C14 to C17 in about two years. Some of it was luck and a little skill, but I’m not sure that would happen so quickly in too many organizations.

From there I moved to Engineering as an entry level draftsman and started college work at Pratt Institute, while moving up in the “E” ranks. One of my first drafting jobs was at the PABT working on a future extension of the building. Today, forty-something years later, working for another company, my office is in that same BT Extension, in line of sight from my old BT office.
I had started college under the educational reimbursement program, which at that time was 100% (with certain grades, of course). After two years I qualified for the junior management equivalency test, which I passed and moved into the “B” ranks and into administrative management, another great PA perk. I switched to St. John’s University and eventually graduated. After a brief rest I started at LIU/CW Post and completed my MBA in three years, just at the time PA started reducing the reimbursement rate. I can’t think of another company you could get such a great education paid for – momma PONYA was very good to me.

Several more promotions along the way and moves from Engineering to Public Affairs, OBJO, Technology and Procurement. Many funny things happened along the way (anyone remember the PONYA-Players?). As I inched closer to Executive Band I watched in awe and envy as the Execs entered the executive dining room on 44. But the month I finally made it, the Executive Director (I forget which one) decided it was not very democratic to have some employees more equal than others and scrapped the program.

I have so many great memories, and the sad ones too – February 26, 1993 and many friends lost over the years. I was fortunate to retire the December before 9/11, but so saddened by loss of so many friends.



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