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What was your path: Sandra Fitzgerald-Angello

Sandra Fitzgerald-AngelloSandra Fitzgerald-Angello
Vice President and Dealer Operator of Pohanka Automotive Group of Salisbury

How did you choose your career path?
My career path chose me. I started when I was 16 years old answering the switchboard at Pohanka Oldsmobile, in Marlow Heights, Md. When I wasn’t in school or answering phones, I would help the sales managers create flyers for sales and update their sales boards. I helped the tag and title department and found solutions to streamline the title process. When I was senior in high school, the finance and insurance manager broke his arm and I was the only one who volunteered to help him. After weeks of doing his paper work while closing deals and submitting applications to the banks, I was able to do the job by the time the cast came off. I worked in his department while attending college at the University of Maryland studying business management. I had an internship set up in my senior year with Xerox, but the general manager of the dealership offered me a top position in the department which would pay five times what I would make at Xerox and I accepted the job. I never looked back and continued to work my way up the ladder to current position of partner in the ownership of seven stores.

What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
As a young girl in a man’s world, I probably had to overcome every obstacle there was. From sexual advances to being told a split tail would never run a department no less a store, there was always someone challenging my authority. I never looked at them in a negative way though, only an opportunity to prove myself and grow the company. I found solutions that proved to be winning strategies and earned the respect of my team members. I treaded everyone with the same respect I would hope to receive and valued their input and feedback.

How do you maintain your passion for the job?
If you love your job it isn’t hard to maintain your passion. I love what I do and I love the people I work with. I can’t imagine not being able to do what I do. I am grateful for my life and my health and thankful to God that he has enabled me to do so. I work not just for myself and my family but to be able to give back and help so many that can’t help themselves.

What’s next for you personally or professionally?
I am challenging myself right now working on my MBA at Salisbury University. Sitting on the advisory board for the Perdue School of Business, I wanted to be part of the university. Keeping up with my goal of doing something that scares me every day, I decided the academic challenge was the ideal thing.
I am currently involved in building a new facility for our VW store and opening another used car facility that will focus on trucks. I have a commercial vehicle department that will follow the truck store and we will continue to look for automotive franchise opportunities for the shore.

What advice do you have for younger women hoping to follow your career path?
My advice to younger women is everything above that I learned along the way.
You have to give give give before you get get get. Everything worth having is earned! Nothing in life is free; someone is paying for it. Don’t get tied up in pettiness. Focus on the outcome and be the difference in the world.
As I said, you have to earn respect, it is not given with a job title. Hard work overcomes all obstacles.
Treat everyone as an equal and help and give back as much as you can. I believe in the end it isn’t your opinion that you will be judged on, but your actions in this world. As I said above, life IS fair, you will get back exactly what you give. Karma is literal and your life is your karma. Make it great!

Sandra Fitzgerald-Angello

Personal:
I was born in Pittsburgh, raised in Temple Hills, moved to Northern VA. after college and came to the Eastern Shore in 1999 when we purchased the dealerships. I have three children and five grandchildren and they all live locally on the shore.

Education:
I have a bachelor’s degree in business administration for the University of Maryland and am working on my MBA from Salisbury University.

Professional: 
I am the vice president and dealer operator of Pohanka Automotive Group of Salisbury consisting of seven franchises, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Sprinter, Volkswagon and Toyota along with two Used Car operations, Cars Made Ez and Trucks Made EZ. I also am an Allstate Agent with offices inside the dealerships and have a little gift shop in downtown Salisbury called Angello’s. Pohanka Pays it Forward has contributed millions of dollars to the local community over the last 20 years and believes all our employees should share in giving back to the community we live, play and work in.

Three things most people don’t know about me:
• I am a stage IV cancer survivor.
• I can NOT sing or throw a baseball.
• I hate being the center of attention.

This article is featured in The Daily Record’s Path To Excellence: A Woman’s Guide To Business. The mission of the Path to Excellence magazine is to give our readers the opportunity to meet successful women of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs and learn how they define success. Read more from Path to Excellence.

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