Roots of Success: Shannon Block
In this Roots of Success series, we sat down with Equiliem’s leaders to learn more about what they think it takes to succeed on their journey. In this article, we visit Equiliem’s CAO, Shannon Block, who shares why her detour to the staffing industry was the right move.
“If you tell the truth, you never have to remember anything.” — Mark Twain
Shannon Block’s grandfather, Jerry Block, a pioneer in the staffing industry, shared with her his belief in this Mark Twain adage when she was very young. It not only left an indelible impression but has also become the underpinning of her work and life philosophies. Shannon said, “I want to ensure that I am always honest in every interaction. It can be challenging to share difficult news, but if you do it truthfully, you will continue to garner the respect of others.”
Like many leaders, Shannon faces communicating decisions that might not please everyone. “I don’t believe in apologizing for making those decisions; being sorry for a hard decision feels disingenuous. Tough decisions require thinking about the best interests of all involved.”
“In this business, we owe it to our clients and candidates to communicate with integrity. That means we do call candidates who were not selected after a job interview and share why they were not chosen. How else can they learn and grow?” She adds that her secret to successfully delivering “bad news” is not “brutal” honesty but rather an empathy-led conversation that includes asking how the other person feels and attempting to understand those feelings.
The Extra Work
Shannon knows firsthand that feelings can be a struggle for some. She’s suffered from lifelong anxiety and depression since the age of five. “In any given day, hour, or minute, anxiety can flare up, sparked by something simple like an angry email from a client, a difficult conversation, going on a business trip, or coming back to the office after the pandemic.”
She has learned to work through anxious moments after years of cognitive behavioral therapy. “I share my story because I want to give other people hope. It takes extra work, but you can learn coping techniques to manage anxiety and return to being grounded when bad feelings arise.”
A Right Turn to Staffing
The road to Shannon’s career in healthcare staffing resulted from a sharp right turn when she was anticipating heading straight into law school after graduating with a degree in Sociology and Criminology and an MBA. She was jetting toward a career as a public defender fighting for justice reform for children to reduce recidivism when her grandfather put an offer on the table. He asked her to try healthcare staffing for one year and agreed to pay for her law school if she didn’t like it.
The choice seemed to be between two different worlds, but Shannon quickly discovered that staffing fed the core desire of her heart: to help people. As she saw the impact of her work and felt the reward of helping people find jobs, clients find talent, and businesses succeed as their customers benefited, she was pleasantly surprised at how meaningful and fulfilling the work could be. “The impact of this business is far-reaching,” Shannon said. “By finding the people to vaccinate a record-setting number of people at the Javits Center…by providing large merchandisers with needed resources for distribution…by finding riggers and offshore folks during the oil crisis…our staffing company plays a role in the economy and our communities that is beyond what most people realize.”
In her current role as Chief Administrative Officer, one focus for Shannon is continuous improvement. She views every experience as a learning opportunity. “It is energy wasted to be upset about an experience that didn’t result in the desired outcome. What did you learn? Focusing on what you can change for the future is what will allow you to do better next time.”
Encouraging Women to Become Leaders
Shannon has stepped into leadership roles that impact the staffing industry, including working on the American Staffing Association’s (ASA) Healthcare Policy council to address issues facing the industry, as a founding member of the ASA’s Women in Leadership Council, and Committee Chair for Emerging Leaders within ASA’s Women in Leadership Council. She’s been named one of the Top Millennials in Staffing by Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA 2016) and among SIA’s Global Power 150 Women in Staffing for the past two years.
She said, “I am very passionate about how we can help women rise in business and how to expand DEI initiatives within our organization and industry.”
On Finding Fulfillment
According to this mother of three children, life in general is a balance. “Work is life and family is life and how you choose to balance the two is fluid. It’s a conscious choice how you spend your time, and that can change from day to day. Especially in our industry, because there are times when business calls.” Shannon remembers 22-hour days sourcing people on the front line fighting COVID. “Some days are very difficult juggling work, life, and kids. I want to show my children that it might not be easy, but we can make it work.”
Shannon believes in putting things on pause “to refill your cup; you can’t be a good manager if your cup is empty.” Spending time with family is what works best for Shannon when she needs a boost. From taking her kids to NYC for the first time and seeing their excitement to watching them bond with their grandparents, seeing experiences through her children’s eyes is what truly lifts Shannon up. She also enjoys spending time with her 90-year-old grandmother and traveling. “I love learning about different cultures,” she said.
Shannon said even though it’s not always easy, she has found a beautiful alignment between her purpose and her work. “Finding true success is about being true to your authentic self and keeping that truth. With your moral compass set and understanding what really drives you, the sky is the limit.”
She considers herself lucky to have identified her calling to help others early in life. Echoing her grandfather and Mark Twain, she says with a smile, “I never have to remember anything.”
Equiliem (www.equiliem.com) believes in empowering success. It’s our job to cultivate relationships that connect people and employers in a way that is inclusive, intelligent, and allows both to thrive.
Across the U.S., leading companies in healthcare, government, light industrial manufacturing, professional services, and energy rely on us for their workforce solutions. Our recruiting and HR services include contract and direct hire staffing, Payrolling/EOR, Independent Contractor Compliance, and Managed Services.
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