Shannon Spano was named winner of the Young Leader of the Year Award, presented by the Young Executive Society, at the AIA’s annual general meeting in Toronto in April.
Shannon Spano was named the winner of the Young Leader of the Year Award.
The national sales manager, retail, at Wakefield Canada was picked by the Young Executive Society of the Automotive Industries Association of Canada, with the award handed out at the AIA’s Annual General Meeting on April 25 in downtown Toronto.
“I’m extremely humbled an honoured to be recognized in this light,” Spano told the 55 people in attendance.
She recalled how she felt “like a number” instead of a person while working in the telecommunications industry more than a decade ago. She wanted more than just a job and paycheque at the end of the day.
“If somebody had told me all those years ago I’d end up in the automotive industry, I wouldn’t believe it.”
— Shannon Spano, Young Leader of the Year Award winner
“I needed to be connected to something much bigger,” Spano said. “I needed to feel valued and I needed to give value back. And I needed to learn continuously and be challenged every day. “
As she looked for her next opportunity, the automotive aftermarket drew her in and she joined Wakefield.
“If somebody had told me all those years ago I’d end up in the automotive industry, I wouldn’t believe it,” Spano said. “I didn’t think pink heels could fit in this world.”
She praised her employer as having an “entrepreneurial spirit,” providing access to leadership and opportunities to learn.
The AIA noted that Spano’s efforts and contributions with Wakefield have led to the company being recognized as the Canadian Tire Vendor of the Year in the automotive category, in 2015 and 2016.
Brad Cochrane, left, chairman of the YES Committee, presented Shannon Spano with the award for Young Leader of the Year.
“Shannon is focused on the development and success of her team above all else, knowing that this makes the greatest contribution to Wakefield as a whole,” the association said in an announcement.
She joined the YES Committee in 2014 and is also a member of the group’s Ontario Division.
“Shannon actively participates in numerous association events and consistently promotes engagement throughout her network,” the announcement said, highlighting her time serving on the board of directors for a local women’s shelter and a volunteer with Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart Charity. “She is passionate about promoting the inclusiveness of the Association and will continue to pursue a more active role in the AIA Canada Women’s Leadership Conference planning and evolving the Advancing Women in Automotive Knowledge Exchange (AWAKE) Mentorship Program.”
Spano thanked the AIA for “promoting inclusion and engagement” within the industry.
“The automobile might connect us initially, but it really is the people and the passion that is driving our success for the future,” she added. “Participating in the AIA has really given me a broader perspective and extensive network and has made me a stronger leader, and I thank everyone for that.”
“One of the goals for the Young Executive Society is to provide opportunities for recognition within the industry,” said Brad Cochrane, chairman of YES, when he announced Spano as this year’s winner.