Profile of Professional Success
By Marek Krasuski
Wheel Monitor Inc.
In a male dominated industry like trucking it can be easy to overlook the accomplishments women have made in the industry’s various sectors – driving, management, ownership. According to the advocacy group, Women In Trucking, more than 200,000 women drivers now make up 5 percent of the trucking industry. Further, another statistic that may be surprising to some, is that women-owned businesses grow 47 percent faster than others. In her role as columnist for this magazine Women In Trucking president, Ellen Voie, highlights the contributions women make to the industry. The website, www.womenintrucking.org, is also an excellent source of information. Included in the many resources found online are profiles of women making progressive inroads in commercial transportation.
Shannon Bell is one such success that VT&T Journal is pleased to profile. Since 2002 when she entered the industry Shannon had little, if any, relevant experience. What she did have in spades was the right attitude. This earmarked her as a future progressive leader in the field of trucking when she joined Wheel Monitor, a company dedicated to developing and marketing technically advanced lift axle controls for trucks and trailers.
Tenacity and vision comprised the fundamentals that shaped her approach. Right from the beginning of her employment with Wheel Monitor she put nose to the grind. “I stayed late, came in on weekends, made wire assemblies, packed orders and even painted the warehouse floor,” she said, recalling the early efforts that placed her firmly on a trajectory of success. Today, Shannon is Vice-President, Operations & Finance at Wheel Monitor where she manages a team of 10 people. Her professional status is buttressed by additional accomplishments. She is a graduate from Niagara College’s Business Accounting Program and is nearing completion of her CPA designation and a Bachelor of Management degree.
Shannon’s visionary strengths are rooted in her understanding that customer satisfaction is a cooperative and reciprocal arrangement. Indeed, they work hand in hand to resolve product challenges. Shannon explains: “I am passionate about solving problems for customers. When they call us they are looking for lift axle controls or sometimes more elaborate solutions to industry related problems. I am so intrigued to hear their problem and provide them with a solution to meet their needs along with the support of our engineering team. The resources at our end, combined with the customer’s drive to find a solution to a pressing problem, create an ideal mix for developing the right niche market product.”
Early in life Shannon thought of becoming a lawyer, but the lure of the trucking industry was more compelling once she was exposed to the challenges and opportunities. “I loved seeing how the market worked, how trailers were built, and sharing in the development of our products,” she said.
Commitment to hard work and curiosity in a multifaceted industry laden with opportunity should override any hesitation for women to join this profession, Shannon insists. “My advice to women is not to be intimidated by a male dominated industry. Secondly, don’t be discouraged by an old way of thinking that sometimes finds its way into the relationship network. Women are capable of knowing just as much as men about electronics, pneumatics, engines, trucks, trailers, axles, wheel ends, valves and anything that they want to put their mind into knowing.” To be sure, Shannon wants women to know they are just as capable as she in achieving excellence in trucking and to find encouragement in the significant number of women joining the ranks in all sectors of trucking, particularly as traditional attitudes soften into a more inclusive approach. She pays tribute to the progressive thinking men who served as mentors and promote equality and mobility in the industry at large.
Shannon’s accomplishments have not gone unnoticed. She was courted by the CTEA (Canadian Transportation Equipment Association) where she sits on the Board of Directors. The CTEA is fulsome in its praise of the skills she brings to the organization, notably in Operations, Industry Experience, and Stakeholder Engagement. “Shannon brings an acute business acumen, an operational eye, and a knowledge of policy to her interest in the CTEA’s Board of Directors. Shannon is eager to bring her uniquely strategic vision to the CTEA to liaise with industry partners, stakeholders, and a continually growing membership,” notes the CTEA.
A shining exemplar for everyone, Shannon Bell offers sage advice for the promotion of women in trucking: “Respect women in the workplace. Promote and advocate for women in all positions by encouraging empowerment. This will enrich any corporation. Sometimes women are the better fit for a particular role in a given company, but they aren’t always considered simply because they are women. Consider them for management positions and not just entry level jobs,” she concludes.☚