Danielle Mendoza: Receptionist To International Rock Star

Danielle Mendoza isn't afraid to get her hands--or the rest of her body --dirty on the job. Photo: Lester Cacho

Meet Competitor Group’s European Marketing and Events Manager!

Four years ago, Danielle Mendoza was sitting behind a receptionist’s desk at the Competitor Group’s Headquarters in San Diego answering phones. She had first discovered Competitor while working as an intern during her senior year at the University of California — San Diego.

“It was the perfect job,” she says of that internship. “I really wanted to come back and work for Competitor, and said I’d go wherever they needed me.”

And so upon graduation, Mendoza began her professional career at Competitor. “I definitely didn’t want to stay in that position for long,” she says of her initial receptionist job. “But I had to start somewhere.”

Four months into the position, Mendoza began to blaze a trail at the company—something she hasn’t stopped doing since–and transitioned into her next role as coordinator for the “Heavy Medals” customer loyalty program. From there, she branched out into what she now calls “a ton of odd jobs” for year. At that point, Mendoza’s work ethic began to catch the attention of executives and she was asked to take on the role of National Promotions Coordinator.

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“It was a really exciting time for the company and a thrilling time to be in this position,” Mendoza recalls. “The company was really growing. We were at six events then and are now at 32. My job was to basically tour the country and help promote our new events at other races.” Mendoza worked hard at it, hiring promotional staff and poring over booth-design details. And when she wasn’t hard at work on the road, the 26-year-old Sacramento native was hitting the roads in preparation for upcoming races of her own.

While attending the New York City Marathon expo for work last fall, Mendoza, who says she has been running since high school, had planned to debut at 26.2 miles there, but because of the race’s cancellation, her marathon dreams went on hold.

“I had been training for six months for the race and so I was bummed,” Mendoza says of the missed opportunity. “But it just didn’t feel right to complete the marathon then since the city had suffered so much.” Instead of running, Mendoza decided to help out a co-worker from New Jersey, who had most of his house flooded during the storm.

Three months later, Mendoza completed her first marathon in Carlsbad, Calif., just north of San Diego. She ran the race with a friend and helped her finish it in five hours. “My time wasn’t a factor that day,” she recalls. “In fact, I’m definitely what you’d call a recreational runner. I just like taking part in races, because I get this feeling when I’m there that I’m part of something really big.”

The day following her first foray into marathon running, something equally big occurred in Mendoza’s life. With extremely sore legs, she packed her bags to go abroad, having recently accepted a new promotion as the European Marketing and Events Manager.

Mendoza has been working in the London office since February. There, she’s been part of a new team that will help manage nine different international races. Even though she’s been putting in long hours—arriving at work at 9 in the morning and not leaving until 7 or 8 at night—Mendoza says she’s in a dream job for one main reason: the international travel. As a college student, she studied abroad in Madrid for four months and became conversant in Spanish there.

The Wanderlust hasn’t left her since.

“I enjoy experiencing different cultures,” she says of traveling. “This job is perfect since I can meet different people from all over the world and even get to use my Spanish.”

Mendoza hopes to stay in London for the next few years. She enjoys the city’s diverse culture, and is looking forward to meeting new friends as her team grows.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for me,” she admits. “I have to say, it’s challenging, but I love it.”

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About The Author:

Duncan Larkin is a freelance journalist who’s been covering the sport of running for over five years. He’s run 2:32 in the marathon and won the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race in 2007. His first running book, RUN SIMPLE, was released in July 2012.

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