Listen in to hear a great perspective in this week’s NothingWasted! podcast. This Boots on the Ground panel at WasteExpo was presented by the National Waste & Recycling Association Women’s Council to highlight the wide variety of women’s career experiences within the waste and recycling industry. You will hear about the ever-changing industry, the challenges they face, and the new innovations and technologies they are using on the job.
You will learn from Paige Coakley, sales executive-collections; WIN Waste Innovations; Domenica Farmer, AVP for the Gulf Coast Area, WM; Kim Luick, operations/office Manager, Waste Connections; Jennifer Solewski, VP, Business & Technical Development, Bayshore Recycling Corp.; and Norma Yanez, government contracts manager, GFL Environmental. It was moderated by Samantha Podgorny, product manager-Electric Refuse Trucks, Heil Environmental.
Here is a sneak peek into the discussion:
Podgorny asked about the panelists’ leadership styles. “Leadership to me is a funny thing,” Solewski noted; “I never knew I had qualities to be a leader until I was in the position and then I realized like, ‘wow, I have a team of people who come to me for answers,’ and it’s very humbling.” She went on to talk about how important it is to collaborate and bring people together to work toward common goals, as well as individual goals. “Communicate, trust in your team, and then you get to achieve great things together.”
Farmer spoke about servant leadership and how she strives for this, because “that’s putting people first, making them the priority.” She noted that, “You have to be intentional about it; you can’t just say you’re going to do it.” Yanez also noted that, even though she doesn’t have anyone who reports to her, “that doesn’t mean you’re not a leader in your own way.”
Podgorny then pivoted to the topic of career challenges. Coakley observed that, “I had to very quickly prove, ‘Listen, I didn’t get my CDL because I’m cute; I got it because I learned to drive a truck. I can do this job; that’s why they hired me.’” In other words, her biggest obstacle was to get her male colleagues to recognize her abilities and to relax.
Luick’s observation was that, “The biggest barrier for me has been myself.” From the very beginning, she found herself second-guessing her own abilities and decisions, but “it has made me work harder and become a stronger person because of it. I had to out-work my co-workers.”
Podgorny asked the panelists what advice they would have given to their 25-year-old selves, or to women seeking a leadership role in the industry. Yanez noted that, “knowledge is truly power,” and “listening is an art; you don’t have to be the one speaking at all times. But don’t be afraid to speak up.” Also, “don’t think that everybody else is smarter than you in the room.”
Coakley added that women should, “Set the goals higher. Don’t set your goals from where you’ve been; you end up short-changing yourself. Set them for where you want to be. Don’t stop here because that’s what you think you deserve.”
The speakers went on to talk about work-life balance, and took questions from the audience. Listen to the full episode here.