5 minutes with … Michael Mendoza

Meet the people who bring AbbVie’s Principles to life.

Published September 12, 2019 / All Stories

AbbVie is made up of 30,000 employees across the world, contributing in diverse ways to one collective purpose. In this series, we take a closer look at some of the incredible people who embody our company's Principles.

In our third in the series, a conversation with Michael Mendoza, manager, environmental health & safety, construction safety.

 

On his role current role with AbbVie …

As the manager of the construction safety program, I am responsible for ensuring our external construction and maintenance contractors work according to AbbVie’s Environmental Health Safety (EHS) standards. I help regulate several areas including working at heights, excavations, health hazards, confined spaces, welding, electrical and more.
 

On which AbbVie Principle he finds to be the most meaningful and why …

Transforming Lives. In my 12 years with AbbVie, I have always felt a sense of pride knowing that the place I work is making a difference in patients’ lives all around the world. I feel a unique sense of responsibility to keep my fellow AbbVie colleagues safe at work so that they can return home and enjoy spending time with their loved ones. It is an important part of my job and I do not take that responsibility lightly.

On more of a personal note, a huge reason why I am passionate about this Principle is due to my daughter, Abigail, who was diagnosed with a childhood cancer called Neuroblastoma when she was just 3½ years old. I vividly remember receiving the call regarding her diagnosis and feeling completely numb inside; it was terrifying. Although those first few days and weeks were a bit of a blur, we eventually came together as a family to fight for our daughter’s life alongside a team of dedicated doctor’s laser-focused on helping her get better. We were lucky enough to have a health care team devoted to helping us stay positive and informed through an intense 14 months of hair loss, chemotherapy, surgeries, stem cell transplant and immunotherapy. I am forever thankful that this story has a happy ending; my daughter is now a healthy, thriving 16-year-old. This experience was life-altering and ultimately helped me to better appreciate our own AbbVie doctors and scientists (and other fellow colleagues) who dedicate their lives to helping find cures and treatments for those in need … just like my very own daughter.

One of my favorite organizations to donate to is the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a charity committed to helping find cures for childhood cancers. For the past 5 years, I have shaved my head at their annual fundraising event on the far northwest side of Chicago. The name of the team … of course, Team Abigail, in honor of my daughter … whose resilience, beauty and strength never cease to amaze me.
 

On what motivates him to come to work every day …

Working in construction gives me the unique opportunity to interact with several groups across the organization and assist with anything and everything construction-safety related. My work has even taken me across the globe, inspecting safety and regulation practices at our manufacturing facilities in locations such as Singapore, Puerto Rico and Ireland. Every day is a new challenge and a new opportunity to make sure everyone at AbbVie remains safe!

On his super-fandom for the Chicago Bears …

I’m a huge Chicago Bears football fan and have been a season ticket holder for the past 20 seasons. I attend almost every game each season and have been featured on television quite a few times. My friends and I partake in large tailgate cookouts in the parking lot before many of the games and a favorite memory from last year was when the CEO of the Bears, George McCaskey, stopped by to say hello and take some pictures.

I love the game so much that I currently serve as a member of the Chicago Bears Season Ticket Holder Advisory Committee where I provide advice and suggestions on how to enhance the fan experience on game day. Some examples include brainstorming new ideas to keep the fans enthusiastic throughout each quarter, providing music suggestions during the game and commercial breaks, and dispensing zip-lock bags to fans entering the stadium to place all belongings (keys, wallets, tickets, gloves, etc.) to ensure faster moving lines through security when entering the stadium.
 

On personal efforts to have a greater impact in his own community …

One of my favorite organizations to volunteer for is Buddy Baseball, where special needs young adults are paired with a “buddy” to help as needed on the baseball field. The league attempts to foster friendships and break down barriers for special needs children, giving them an opportunity to play an organized sport in a non-competitive, good-spirited environment. As a buddy to the players, I always have a blast assisting the kids with batting and fielding. My favorite though is when I take on position of catcher; in my rulebook, all players are tagged as “safe” at home plate and the players absolutely love it! The smiles and utter joy captured in each and every face during gameplay is priceless. I feel honored and am always beyond ecstatic when the kids remember my name each time I return to volunteer.

Michael on the job outside of AbbVie’s North Chicago manufacturing plant.

On the beginnings of his career in construction safety …

I originally studied Consumer Affairs in college, but when that career path didn’t turn out the way I had hoped, my life took an unexpected turn. A friend of my father’s was starting his own safety consulting company and asked if I would be interested in coming to work for him, with the caveat that I would get on the job training in construction safety. It was a great opportunity and really appealed to my desire to help people remain safe, especially while on the job. Ever since, I remain passionate about the field of personal safety and making sure people go home exactly as they arrive.
 

On his passion for AbbVie’s annual Week of Possibilities …

AbbVie’s annual Week of Possibilities holds a special place in my heart as it aims to unite our employees around the world with a single purpose: to give back to our local communities. I feel honored to support the week from a safety standpoint by gathering teams of EHS professionals to institute precautionary measures and ensure volunteers are provided with the proper safety hazard training. This can range anywhere from providing water when working outdoors, offering guidance when working on scaffolding or tending to anyone that is injured to ensure they receive the proper care.

Beyond the safety aspect, the real joy is getting to see the smile on a child’s face when we build a new playground or renovate a classroom; or a resident talking about the new house they will be moving into that we helped build. It’s extremely heartwarming and helps to reinforce the idea that the work we perform is truly having a greater impact on the world at large.
 

On his fateful encounter with comedian and late show talk host, David Letterman …

I was fortunate enough to attend “The Late Show” during David Letterman’s last year hosting the show. As the fates would have it, I got to ask him a question before the show started. I noticed that he touched his hip at random points throughout his monologue and my question was: Why? David told me that he borrowed the move from a comic back in the 50s who would touch his hip whenever a joke bombed. That night during the monologue when one of his jokes flopped, he touched his hip and the camera suddenly landed on a shot of me in the audience. An experience I will truly never forget!

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