Fabiola Mendoza was at a crossroad deciding whether to remain a freelance bookkeeper, or to return to “corporate America” and start from scratch. She lacked a college degree but knew she could succeed.
All she needed was a foot in the door.
Manheim Phoenix hiring manager Eric Farmer gave her that chance when he hired her as a part-time bilingual cash clerk.
Mendoza, now a supervisor at Manheim, pushed the door wide open.
“People tried to limit me all the time because I didn’t have a college degree and I refused to accept that,” Mendoza says. “So, I took ownership in every role and I learned everything I could.”
Mendoza came to the United States from Mexico as an infant. She learned English by watching television shows like “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” “Sesame Street” and “The Electric Company.”
After high school, she landed bookkeeping jobs — first at a large industrial re-manufacturer, then later at a rapidly expanding radiology practice. She quickly developed a strong command of general ledger, amortization schedules, fixed assets, workman’s comp reporting and more.
“I knew one day I would go to college,” Mendoza says. “But in the meantime, I took on more responsibilities as people left the department(s) and moved on.”
But then the medical practice’s expansion was scaled back, the corporate office was closed down, satellite locations assumed corporates duties, and Mendoza found herself laid off from her role of assistant controller of the main office.
She applied for a bilingual cash clerk position at Manheim Phoenix. Eric, the hiring manager, hired her to work one day a week. One day turned into two.
Eric was so impressed by Mendoza's knowledge and work ethic that he took another look at her resume. He offered her a full-time job doing bank reconciliation. She hasn’t looked back.
“After a while, I saw an opening in collections and I asked if they thought I’d be a good fit,” she says. “They said, ‘Absolutely. Go for it. You have our blessing.’”
She landed the collections job and within 12 months was handling collections for Manheim, Tucson, Manheim Phoenix and Manheim El Paso. She continued to build professional relationships with ease because, to her, the workplace felt like an extension of her own family. One of those connections was with Manheim controller, Tyanna Evans.
Evans encouraged Mendoza to go back to school and get the college degree she always dreamed of. Through a Manheim program at Ashford University, Mendoza is two years into her bachelor’s degree in accounting.
“Tyanna has had one of the biggest impacts on my career and my life,” Mendoza says of Evans. “I admire the risks she has taken in her own career to take on bigger opportunities.”
Today, as a hub Supervisor of Posting and Procurement at Manheim Phoenix, Mendoza reflects on her seven-year tenure at Manheim.
“Because I didn't have my degree, I felt like I had to shine more. I think that made me try harder,” she says.
She hopes to inspire younger team members and potential hires coming from challenging circumstances. Her message to them is, “Don’t be discouraged... There are still companies like Manheim that will recognize your gifts and take a chance on you.”