This Trillium Network team member has experience working in the automotive industry, dabbles in visual arts, can’t live without pistachios, and is mildly obsessed with Stevie Wonder

Shannon Miller has been a Program Officer with the Trillium Network since February 2021. Her background includes a BA and MA in Labour Studies from McMaster University (where she first worked with Brendan, Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing’s Managing Director) and experience working in HR at FCA’s (now Stellantis’) Brampton Assembly Plant. Her initial contribution at the Trillium Network was to the Bridges, Not Barriers: Advancing Racialized Women in Ontario Manufacturing report. Her work is oriented around equitable access to work/development opportunities and raising awareness through partnership development.

What attracted you to joining the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing team?

The Trillium Network’s range of projects, especially in workforce development. The Gender Diversity and Ontario Manufacturing: Lessons from Five Leading Companies report was released the month that I started. I previously worked in the automotive industry and as part of my graduate work at McMaster, I researched demographic and job quality changes within the industry, so I was excited to contribute to any other workforce development projects.

What experience do you have in manufacturing and how has this helped you in your current role?

My internship in FCA’s People Development Department introduced me to World Class Manufacturing. While working at FCA, I had the opportunity to contribute to projects that gave me perspective on hiring, training, and labour relations. This experience influenced my focus on demographic and job quality trends in the automotive industry and the broader manufacturing sector.

What are your main priorities and goals in your role? 

Contributing to manufacturing workforce development initiatives, and engaging with ecosystem partners. 

As a Program Officer, I primarily engage with ecosystem partners to develop relationships that highlight R&D in Ontario manufacturing. Ecosystem partners are non-profit or publicly-funded organizations that contribute to Ontario’s manufacturing ecosystem and they include university-based R&D centres, incubators, and health science centres. The directory currently provides information on more than 200 of these organizations, many of which provide services like research and development, facility access and testing.

What have the highlights been so far working with Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing?

I’m fortunate to have had several highlight projects so far, but my top three would be: connecting with university co-op departments, the Bridges, Not Barriers report, and interacting with ecosystem partners.

Experiential learning initiatives are very important to me because I started my career in manufacturing through one. At the Trillium Network we hosted a roundtable of university co-op departments, partnered on an event with HIREWaterloo and hired a student through them.

For the Bridges, Not Barriers: Advancing Racialized Women in Ontario Manufacturing, report we interviewed three racialized women who lead manufacturing companies. There is so much work left to be done to engage talent from an increasingly diverse population. The important work we do here at the Trillium Network highlights and challenges Ontario’s manufacturing sector. Every gap is an opportunity.

How do you define success and what drives you to succeed? 

There’s a quote usually attributed to Maya Angelou: “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” Something I’m certain she said is “try to live your life in a way that you will not regret years of useless virtue and inertia and timidity.” I hold on to these quotes because it applies to so many areas of life. I’m driven to succeed by my desire to make my family proud and to always align my actions with my values.

What’s your favourite hobby?

Anything expressive. I really love to journal – it helps me organize my thoughts. I also paint and draw with pastels.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given? 

I believe the best advice has been “be yourself”. As a young, early-career Black woman I know that my specific experiences and perspective bring value to the table, and have the potential to improve the experiences of others. Your authenticity is never just about you. 

Hometown: I was raised in the parish of Westmoreland, Jamaica –  my entire family moved to Canada in December 2009.

Last book I read: I re-read Sula by Toni Morrison. Both families in that story remind me of mine.

My most played song: The entire Painted (Lucky Daye) album. 

Favourite restaurant: I don’t have one yet, but I’m enjoying the search.

Can’t live without: Pistachios!

Winter or Summer? Summer
Cats or Dogs? Dogs
Tea or Coffee? Coffee
Sushi or Pizza? Pizza