While there remains debate as to whether or not women in the U.S. have once and for all “broken through the glass ceiling,” pictures of a diversified workplace — where a woman is just as likely to manage a company as a man — are pushing their way to the foreground.
One car rental company exemplifies this picture. With nine locations in the Los Angeles area and a branch in San Diego, Midway Car Rental comprises a management team full of women. Each started at the bottom, but then generated their own growth through innovation, confidence, leadership and diversity in skills — and then made sure to mentor new employees with what they had learned.
“We’ve developed a very strong culture at our company, and our women mean a lot to our business,” says Rick Mullinax, executive VP for Midway Car Rental. He says that the women who thrive in the company are those willing to grow their roles as the company expands, and this dedication creates a competitiveness that continues to raise the bar even higher.
Cynthia Tejeda, Director of Corporate and Entertainment Sales
Give credit where credit is due is the mantra Cynthia Tejeda lives by. This applies not only to her success as Midway’s first female manager, but also to opportunities afforded to other employees.
Tejeda began with Midway when the company acquired Southwest Leasing, where she was a receptionist. She started as a customer service representative, and in 18 years she has been an account manager, collections manager, reservations manager, sales manager, assistant manager and branch manager.
Today, she deals mostly with celebrity and entertainment travel agents, as well as travelers from the Middle East.
“I’ve done the operations side and the sales part, so I understand what it takes to make a deal happen or to guarantee certain makes and models, and to not overpromise,” Tejeda says.
Role flexibility is shared between all the women in management, according to Tejeda, who has served as a mentor to several women, who then mentored others.
Recently in fact, a new employee asked Tejeda what she needed to do to become a manager at Midway. “It was amazing that she valued my opinion,” Tejeda says. “And I shared what I did. And that’s the one thing I’m most proud of is I give them all I can — as far as telling them what I did — but the rest is on them. I just want to be a positive role model.”
Tejeda credits Mullinax and Gary Macdonald, president of Midway Auto Group, which includes all the company’s services and a total staff of about 200, for always looking to hire and promote from within whenever possible.
“All I ever did was give people the credit they deserved,” she says, “and then really gave them praises to upper management who weren’t there to see them in action.”