2019 Women in Print and Promo: Shannon Gansner, GO2 Partners
Partner, GO2 Partners, Des Plaines, Ill.
How she got her start: It was my first job out of college. I started as a sales tech working with a very large customer in 1996. A division of my first company was sold to a distributor in 2006, in which a select group of salespeople came with the deal. I was part of the deal. After many months of working for the new company, I knew I needed to make a change. About a year later, I was introduced to Jim O’Brien, president of GO2 Partners, formerly known as Print Management Partners.
What she does: I am a partner in my company. My responsibilities include managing a sales office, creating a healthy happy work environment for my employees, and maintaining and growing my current sales assignment.
What brings her joy professionally and personally: One word can best describe what brings joy in my work and my life: relationships. My door is always open. Not only do I love to help people, I love that I get to learn something new from everyone I meet. Throughout my career, I have been so fortunate to meet so many people who have impacted and continue to impact my life both on a personal and professional level. I have customers and coworkers who have become great friends, and every day there is opportunity to meet more.
In my life outside of work, relationships are just as important, if not more. My family will always be my No. 1 priority; without them, I would not be where I am today. Whether I have a good day or a bad day, they are always there to support me.
Her proudest career achievement: I am most proud of becoming a partner in my company. Changing companies in 2008 was by far one of the scariest things I have ever done. I had a lot to lose, but so much more to gain. However, [this move] was not going to be easy. I had legal battles to fight, income insecurities and fears of rejection. It was a very emotional and intimidating experience, but I lived through it. In 2009, my boss approached me about becoming a partner in the company—not just a partner, the first woman partner. While I was excited to be the first woman partner, I did not want my coworkers to change their behavior because of me, and they did not. I just became one of them. In fact, when I first became a partner, I was talking with one of my other partners, and he said to me, “I do not know how you can do everything you do.” I asked what he meant by that. He said, “We all have wives at home to take care of everything, and you are the wife, working full-time, traveling, with two kids.” I will never forget that comment. I was like “Wow, these guys really get me.”
On working in a traditionally male-dominated industry: Honestly, while I always heard people talk about the “good ol’ boys club,” I never felt out of place being a female in the industry or challenged by being a female. My bigger challenges were working with other women in my industry. If I ever do feel challenged, I always try to give the people the benefit of the doubt. You never know what someone has going on in their life to make them act certain ways. Always be yourself, and do the best you can. Not everyone is always going to like you, but if you know you gave—and continue to give—it your best, you must move on and never burn bridges.
Her job advice to women: I would suggest really researching the company where you want to work before you accept a job in the industry. The company you work for is the biggest part of your work/life balance. If you work for a company with a healthy, happy work environment, your level of support and success will follow. Every company and every person is going to have flaws and frustrations; how they treat you is what makes the difference.
Who she turns to for career advice: I turn to Jim O’Brien, president of GO2 Partners, for career advice—both on personal and professional level. I would also consider Jim O’Brien as one of my mentors, along with every other partner in my company. He has pushed me outside of my comfort zone, made me think differently, asked me hard questions, listened, cared and helped develop me into the person I am today. I would also consider Jim Anderson, president of Corporate Development Associates, as another one of my mentors. Jim Anderson, is the reason I met Jim O’Brien. After my division was sold, I met Jim Anderson, and he was the first person in my career who saw things in me that I did not see in myself, and continues to provide words of encouragement and support.
Her upcoming goals: By any measure, I am successful now, but I know my best years in the industry are ahead of me. 2019 will be better than 2018, and I am working now to make 2020 the best of my career.
On a personal note, I want to focus more on experiences versus material things. While material things are nice, the memories you create with the people who are important to you are what you are going to cherish.
How she maintains a work/life balance: Maintaining a work/life balance is always one of my biggest challenges, and my support system is why I can make it work. At work, I have an amazing support team that keeps me sane and, without them, I would not be able to keep up. I learn from them and they learn from me.
At home, my boys, my mom, and my fiancé are my biggest supporters. My most important job is being a mom. I have two teenage boys: Jack, 18, is getting ready to graduate from high school, and Ben, 15, is a soon-to-be sophomore. It is a very busy time with my boys right now. Over the years, I have tried to include them in my career as much as possible, and now as much as they are interested. My boys have been fortunate to do some traveling with me, meet some of my customers and coworkers, and learn what it is like for their mom to work and support them. Now that my boys are maturing, they are also part of my support system. They help when I ask and sometimes even when I do not. My mom, my biggest fan, I cannot say enough about her support, words of encouragement and willingness to jump in and help me. Last but not least, my fiancé, Tim. Tim and I have known each other for almost 40 years, and he truly is my best friend. When good things happen, he is there to help me celebrate my successes and when days are not as good, he will listen and, most importantly, remind me that tomorrow is another day.
Final thoughts: Over the past 23 years of my career, I have learned a lot, and I am very thankful for the people I have met along the way. I wish I could list everyone who has helped me, but my list would be long. Women are wired differently—always have been and always will be. Accept and enjoy the things our “wires” allow us to do differently. A healthy work environment must contain both men and women.