Shaunna filling in as a log yard heavy equipment operator in 2018. 'In my decade at Weyerhaeuser, I’ve gotten to see a lot of different aspects of the company,' she says. 'We live up to our vision statement, and when we miss the mark, we have a conversation, regroup and turn things around. That means a lot to me.'
When her kids were young, Shaunna Voepel’s job as a bar manager was a great fit. The hours were flexible, so she never worried about driving them to and from school, or staying home when they were sick.
But as they got older, she wanted more: Benefits, retirement and a totally different kind of working environment.
“My father helped rebuild the Santiam sawmill in Lebanon, Oregon, in 2008,” Shaunna says. “He was really impressed by Weyerhaeuser’s ethics and how they treat their employees, so he encouraged me to apply.”
Shaunna became an entry-level production associate at Santiam in January 2014. Her father, Tom Snyder, eventually joined her, trading his traveling subcontractor lifestyle for the stability of full-time employment. He retired from the company in September 2022, while Shaunna continued to evolve her career.
“I wanted to move to a salaried position,” Shaunna says. “I applied for 18 different roles and interviewed for 10 of them. I had the process down pat, but I just wasn’t getting traction.”
Less determined people might have given up. But Shaunna persisted.
In 2019 Shaunna, far right, organized a donation drive to collect school supplies and hygiene products for the grand opening of Ralston Academy, a new alternative school for teens in Lebanon, Oregon.
USING REJECTION AS REFINEMENT
She continued to refine her resume, talk to people at the mill and network outside of her immediate team. She cross-trained in nearly a dozen different production roles. She helped out in the planning department as an office assistant, and also as an assistant to the safety manager. She took on a leadership role in our Empowering Women of Weyerhaeuser employee resource group. Every step of the way, she was able to refine her skills and build her knowledge of the company at large.
“I co-lead the speaker series for E-WOW, so I get to talk to women in every business and location we have across the company,” Shaunna says. “It’s so fulfilling, and it expanded my view of my own career and what’s possible in my life.”
But as she continued to pursue salaried positions, she realized her location was potentially hampering her opportunities.
“The jobs that interested me most were located in Seattle, but there was no way I was moving,” Shaunna says. “My family is here, and we have the most peaceful five-acre property with gardens and animals. I could never leave this behind for city life. It seemed like I’d come to an impasse.”
Also in 2019, Shaunna (second from right) created an educational PPE display for the Classroom to Career Expo, giving students and educators a chance to try on and take selfies wearing the same PPE worn by our production workers, millwrights and electricians.
CLIMBING FOR A BROADER VIEW
The upheaval of COVID-19 brought Shaunna an unexpected silver lining in the form of remote work opportunities. In 2022, a position opened up for a customer service representative for our Engineered Wood Products business. It was based in Seattle but open to applicants in other areas.
Shaunna quickly realized it was the right fit. Not only could she work from home, but she’d also have the possibility of promotions or lateral movement within the supply chain team.
“I set aside the fear of rejection and applied,” she says. “I reminded myself I wasn’t looking for a place to belong in Weyerhaeuser — I already had it. I was looking for growth opportunities. I thought about all the feedback I’d received from my prior interviews, and I changed my language from ‘I think I have what it takes’ to ‘I do have what it takes.’”
The hiring team agreed. They offered her the role.
“Working in customer service has opened up a whole new world,” she says. “My coworkers are amazing, and they’re all so willing to show me easier, faster and better ways of getting things done.”
In her new role, Shaunna gets a broad view of both upstream and downstream processes. She works across departments, frequently chatting with colleagues in logistics and planning when she has questions.
“Talking to so many different people exposes me to all different facets of the company,” Shaunna says. “I’m especially interested in cross-border trade compliance, so maybe I’ll work toward that in the future. It’s exciting to feel like there are so many different directions I could move in as I continue to learn and grow.”
ADVICE FROM SHAUNNA
- Read Roots! Production workers aren’t on computers as much, and for a long time I didn’t know what I was missing. I started reading it while filling out my timesheet, and that’s how I learned about job openings, our TREE-Mendous Matching Gifts program, volunteer opportunities, training and all sorts of other great things that are now very important to me.
- Keep track of your progress. No matter what role you’re in, you’re gaining skills. Document them and keep your resume and your company bio updated. Go the extra mile at work and make sure your managers see it. Talk yourself up so you feel more confident when the time comes to apply for something new.
- Look at the bigger picture. For a long time, I was stuck in the mindset that I couldn’t leave the mill, that production jobs were the only ones available to me. It turns out that wasn’t true. You never know what might be out there for you, so don’t give up!