Women in Industry: Shellia Jefferson with SilMan Industries

Embracing Everything

Shellia Jefferson with SilMan Industries highlights the importance of embracing and being a champion for resilience, diversity and positivity as a woman in the material handling industry.

By Nicole Needles

In the world of material handling and construction, Shellia Jefferson stands out as a dynamic force to be reckoned with. With over 14 years of experience in the construction industry, Jefferson’s journey from high school to a thriving career in material handling and project execution is nothing short of inspiring.

After high school, Jefferson embarked on her educational journey at San Francisco University and simultaneously entered the workforce in the residential construction sector. Her initial entrance into the industry laid the foundation for her career. But, her ambition was not limited to this initial stage. She had her sights set on a broader horizon. Her determination and desire for career growth led her to transition into commercial construction, providing her access to public works and private projects. Throughout this transformative period, Shellia accrued a wealth of knowledge and skills vital for her future roles in material handling. Her progression was marked by her commitment to working with teams to implement project planning, resource allocation, inventory management, team leadership and more.

With more women entering the material handling industry, Jefferson recognizes the transformative impact their presence brings.

“I love this for us! As women, we offer various fresh perspectives such as diverse problem-solving approaches, unique leadership and enhanced communication skills. Our presence promotes inclusivity and drives innovation, which can lead to even more sustainable solutions within the material handling industry,” she said.

Jefferson acknowledges the pervasive stereotypes that can unfairly undermine a woman’s knowledge and skills. The biggest challenge she has faced is combating these stereotypes. Despite these hurdles, Jefferson is inspired by the trailblazers and mentors who have paved the way, breaking down barriers with resilience and determination.

“The most knowledgeable of the two genders are those role models and mentors who overcome this by resiliently leading the way in a positive light, in addition to advocating for diversity and inclusion, further breaking down barriers and blazing a new trail,” she said.

The greatest advantage Jefferson sees in being a woman in a male-dominated industry is the improved teamwork that results from a diverse group of professionals. Women in material handling bring a unique perspective and a different range of skills and approaches. This diversity, she believes, strengthens the workplace and enables it to flourish through collaboration and innovation.

When asked for advice and encouragement for other women in material handling, Jefferson offers a few key insights.

“Always believe in yourself, seek support, embrace diversity and continue to be a student by being open to learning new skills and knowledge. All the while, persevere to implement a positive impact,” she said.

Jefferson’s journey is marked by not only her resilience but also the wisdom she has gathered along the way. The best leadership advice she’s ever received centers on leading by example. It’s a life lesson she cherishes: Ensure your actions align with your words. Your actions and behaviors set the tone for your environment, and this is particularly significant in a leadership role.

What Jefferson loves most about her career are the aspects that revolve around people and learning. She relishes team building and the intricate dance of managing client relationships. Moreover, her enthusiasm for learning and gaining new technical knowledge drives her to remain at the forefront of her industry, always ready to embrace new challenges and opportunities.