Patient Transport Manager
Wexner Medical Center
Q. Describe your career path that has led to your current post.
A. I worked at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center (OSUWMC) as a patient care associate for seven years, then I was offered a position at OSUWMC in the department of Education Development and Resources (ED&R). After working in ED&R for several years, I started working in Nursing Education and from there I moved into management. I currently work as a manager in the Patient Transportation department.
Q. How would you describe your leadership style?
A. I would describe my leadership as a little unique. I make it a point to lead from the front, side and behind all at the same time. I believe a good leader is one who directs, encourages and supports all at the same time.
Q. What were the best career investments you've made along the way?
A. My first career investment that significantly benefited me was my education. Obtaining my bachelors and masters degrees from The Ohio State University was a priceless investment. I can't describe how receiving higher education has helped me see the world through a different lens. Also transitioning from working in education to working in management has allowed me to not only educate but also mentor people.
Q. Any mentors or champions who supported your professional development?
A. I learned early on the benefit of mentorship. Along the way I had many informal mentors, too many to name. I also had a few people who mentored me formally. Wanda Dillard mentored me in the areas of diversity and community; Wanda introduced me to people and exposed me to environments I would never have encountered if it were not for her. Jason Walsh was not only my director but he has been a friend, mentor and sponsor. Jason didn't just see who I was, but also who I could become. He truly took the time to invest in and encourage me.
Joyce Beatty and Tracey Maxwell Heard have both mentored me in the area of community service; they showed me that women of color could be in and excel in any government position. Additionally, my past and current pastors, Elder Waymon Malone, and Apostles Cereda and Daniel Rispress, have played a significant role in my spiritual development.
Q. How would you describe your career goals today? How have they changed over time?
A. I want to develop people and impact change. I desire to help people understand that we have more in common than not in common. I want to continue to promote a sense of inclusion versus exclusion. I wanted to teach diversity and be part of the diversity initiatives.
I also wanted to find a way to impact the city of Columbus through public service and volunteerism. I'm from a community of people with low socio-economic status; little or no higher education; schools with poor graduation rates; women still dealing with gender and racial inequality. My goal is to be a voice for those who can't speak for themselves. I look for those opportunities where I can make a difference in the community and for the community of people that I live with.
Q. What kinds of challenges have you faced along the way, and how did you overcome them?
A. I have faced health challenges. I had a tumor in my head while I was an undergraduate, and one side of my face was paralyzed for over six months. While in the master's program, I had breast cancer. I pressed forward knowing that I have an entire generation behind me depending on my success.
A significant challenge I continue to encounter has been work inequities. I've been required to do more work than my peers, and haven't been equally compensated or valued. I've been denied advancement or promotion without explanation. I've worked to find ways to challenge inequities in the workplace in an effective way.
Q. When you think about serving in a leadership role as a female, do any unique experiences come to mind?
A. Yes, "Women Moving Forward." We facilitated a luncheon for women in the medical center. We invited women in positions that typically do not require higher education. We invited motivational speakers and representatives from Columbus State, OSU and the Office of Continuing Education. Several women at the end of the luncheon registered for classes and started their educational journeys. Women like myself just need to be encouraged and have someone believe in them, which is what we offered during "Women Moving Forward."
Q. What advice would you give to other women looking to reach similar goals?
A. Find a mentor, especially one who looks like you and can understand the unique challenges you face.
This might seem challenging, but I can still remember when I first reached out to Joyce Beatty, who was the senior vice president of Outreach and Engagement and is now a U.S. congresswoman. I just sent her an email and asked if I could meet with her and it went from there.
Network and invest in yourself. Always keep coffee money in your jar — you never know when you'll be able to ask someone to coffee for a conversation. Remember, every conversation is an opportunity.
Q. What's next for you? Something you're looking forward to.
A. Good question … . I would have to say I am looking for more opportunities to do the work I am passionate about. I want to continue making a difference in the lives of people, especially women. I want to be in a place to offer women the same opportunities that were offered to me. I see myself in an advanced leadership position within OSU. I am also looking forward to completing my first book "Shelltalk."
Learn more about Shelly and her career path in her Buckeye Voices article.
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