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Powering jobs in the New Energy Economy: Meet Robert Mendoza
By Tracy Idell Hamilton on December 4, 2013
Robert Mendoza, 45, is the human resources director for OCI Solar Power.
He’s responsible for all aspects of the company’s human resources — talent acquisition (aka hiring), benefits administration, compensation and policy creation at OCI Solar Power. When he started a year ago, the company had less than a dozen employees. Today it has 37 and is on track to roughly double that in the next two years.
We spoke with Robert as part of our series profiling real people who’ve gotten good jobs in the New Energy Economy. His is one of more than 250 permanent positions moved here or created thus far by our partner companies, which have opened offices and are building manufacturing in and around San Antonio. Hundreds more have been hired on a temporary basis, helping build solar farms, the manufacturing plant and other infrastructure.
The goal of CPS Energy’s New Energy Economy initiative is to reduce the carbon intensity of our generation fleet, create a sustainable clean energy economy and enhance STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — education in the San Antonio region.
What’s your training, and where did you work previously?
“I have a Master’s in Industrial Organizational Psychology, which is a fancy way of saying the science side of human resources. We use data to assess how someone will fit into an organization. I have a bachelor of business administration in international business from St. Mary’s University.
“Before OCI Solar Power, I worked at Harland Clarke for 16 years — they do financial services, check printing. Before that I was in the military.”
What inspired you to work for OCI Solar Power?
“I was contacted by a recruiter and at first I turned it down. But then I did more research. What stood out to me most was the start-up aspect, building a company from the ground up. Plus, once I found out what this meant for San Antonio, how big an impact this is for the city, well, I’m from here. I was in the military but I’ve always come back here.”
Describe some of the challenges that come with building a company from the ground up.
“I’m used to a company culture, and the military, where everything is established. Here, you have to build everything from scratch. What is our mission, what is our culture, our vision? Who is responsible for what?
The fun part is, getting it right from the beginning, seeing the company flourish. Watching the growth, and our accomplishments in such a short period of time.”
What’s your advice for job seekers?
One of our big challenges is that because we’re creating a new industry here, it’s been difficult to find people with a lot of experience in the industry. A start up needs people with heavy experience to get this thing off the ground.
“Then we’ll be able to hire more from other industries, so I’d tell people to take time to look at the specific demands of the job, and see how they can transfer their existing knowledge, skills and experience over into this new industry. It will take some research on their part, but it should be worth it.”
Check out the jobs currently listed at OCI Solar Power.