Rising Through the Ranks
Members of Gen Z have been labeled as entitled, lethargic, or otherwise stuck in their phones. That’s a tough stereotype to overcome, but 24-year-old Monica Lynn Jecmen of Cañon City, Colo., is proving just what kind of hard work younger employees can do.
She's proven to be a serious go-getter, one who’s successfully able to juggle work and school. In just six years since starting at Jiffy Lube, she's climbed the corporate ladder. Now a district manager assistant, she hopes in time to work in the company's accounting department. Along the way, Jecmen has earned the respect of her co-workers and customers alike.
"Go-getter would certainly describe her," says Ann Hockman-Toponce, assistant manager of the Jiffy Lube in Cañon City. "I worked with her for four years, and she's now my 'big boss,' and before that she was my manager at this store for three years."
Hockman-Toponce explains that while there has been the usual attrition at the company, which includes some retirements, Jecmen has managed to work her way up the ranks through hard work and determination.
"She is very focused when it comes to work, and she can spread herself without spreading herself thin," Hockman-Toponce tells NOLN.
A Car Girl
For years it also seemed that the "younger crowd" wasn't as interested in cars, but Gen Z has shown renewed desire to get behind the wheel, even if few have shown interest in what goes on under the hood. Cars have certainly been a part of Jecmen's life since she was a child, and that includes working on them.
"I did grow up with cars in the backyard, and it was just my mom and my sisters," says Jecmen, adding that she learned to get her hands dirty as she and her sisters would work on one another's vehicles.
Yet, even with that past hands-on experience, it still took some determination when she first applied to work at Jiffy Lube. Being a young woman and fresh out of high school, it was a bit harder than what many young men might experience when starting out in the quick lube world.
"I had to start at the bottom as a custodial technician, which meant washing windows and cleaning the cars, but I proved that I could do the job and then I was given the chance to work under the hood and soon I worked the upper bay, the lower bay and was able to prove that I could handle responsibly," she says.
However, it wasn't just the shop's manager and other employees she had to convince—there were also the customers. Some of the older clientele may have been more used to seeing young women as pinups on the walls rather than working on the shop floor.
"I had to prove that I knew what I was doing, and that can mean having to explain to customers more than a guy might," Jecmen says. "As a girl you have to be ready to explain even basic things and prove that you know what you are doing. At first, there were some customers that didn't trust me and might not have had a woman touch their car—but then after a while, they'd come back and say that I was the only one to work on their cars."
The sentiment was shared by Hockman-Toponce, who had similar experiences, and said that it takes going a little further with some of those clients. Hockman-Topance says that it’s the skill level and interest that should drive hiring and success.
"But, the fact that Monica was given the chance really shows that Jiffy Lube is a company that is an equal-opportunity provider. If you can do the work, you can go far and she's really gone far already in just six years," she says.
Girl Power—Management and Beyond
After proving she could be a team leader, Jecmen moved up to floor manager, which also involved more responsibility. It also meant a lot of training; everything from scheduling to write ups to other facets of running the shop. For a lot of technicians that can be more grueling than a day changing oil, but Jecmen proves she was up to that challenge as well, which quickly led to a position of general manager.
One of the things Jecmen says she has learned was that there are a lot of misconceptions about what is involved in automotive maintenance today. The shops run much like "IT" for the car.
"Absolutely," says Jecmen. "Everything is electronic, including the service manuals, and you have to be as versed with the computer systems as anything. But I'm part of that 'younger generation' so I'm almost expected to be savvy with all of those devices and gizmos. That's good I guess; today we're using an iPad for inspections, and while it gets a little complicated I have been able to adapt."
Even as she moved up the corporate ladder, first to floor manager and then to general manager, Jecmen was always eager to do more, which has helped endear her to the other employees.
"She proved to be the most amazing manager," Hockman-Toponce says. "She was also very supportive and never seemed to be like the 'boss,' and was always elbow to elbow with us on the floor. She was always covered in grease like everyone else, and there was nothing she would tell someone to do that she wouldn't do herself."
That meant following policy and sticking to the books to ensure the shop ran smoothly, but at the same time Jecmen remained a pleasant person to work with. It wasn't a surprise that she has moved up and is now a district manager assistant.
That means she splits her time between multiple locations in Central Colorado, where she assists in training. Just as some customers needed convincing that a young woman could handle the job, there was a little bit of an adjustment when she took on her latest position as well.
District Manager Assistant
Even as she won over the clients and employees alike as she moved up at her initial shop, experiencing obstacles was only repeated—multiple times—with each position including when she took on her current position. The "shock factor" remained.
"When I would walk in at first, they weren't used to seeing a young girl, and I knew I'd have to earn their respect," Jecmen adds.
Thanks to her generally cheerful personality, positive outlook and eagerness to help out, Jecmen has become as respected a district manager assistant as she was a technician or floor manager.
"She makes sure she visits every store, and she answers her phone and is always reachable," Hockman-Toponce says. "That is really important in this business. I'm not a tech person, exactly, so when I call her a lot, she's always available or gets back to me quickly.
Jecmen hasn't put her days of working on the floor behind her either, and that fact alone has gone a long way at not just her former shop but all of the shops in her district.
"She still works on the floor and is able to roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty," says Hockman-Toponce.
For Jecmen, she tells NOLN that she is always ready to pitch in as much as she can, and instead of putting the days on the floor behind her she actually misses it. She describes it as the "best job" she has worked in her 24-years.
Next Stop: Corporate
Even as Jecmen doesn't mind getting back to the floor, she's proven to be career-minded. The Gen Zer is now enrolled at Pueblo Community College and is taking classes in accounting. Her short-term goal is to earn an associate's degree, to be followed by a bachelor's degree, which should lead to a job in the Jiffy Lube corporate office.
"It might sound strange at my age to say this, but it has been a long road as I came up with the company," Jecmen says. "Jiffy Lube is helping with school and I'm really grateful for the opportunity and for the potential career it will provide me. I think coming from the shop will help as I know the ins and outs of it."
While many Americans now work long hours and have to balance work and school, it hasn't slowed down Jecmen.
"It can be a drain I'm sure, but she really manages her time wisely," says Hockman-Toponce. "She is doing well in school and it doesn't impact her job performance. We try to support her and take what we can off her plate."
Jiffy Lube has proven a home for Jecmen, who has long been a bit of a car girl, and even when she makes it to the corporate office, she says, "It is nice to see people happy with their vehicle when they leave the shop."