HERstory | Melissa Shewan

Materials and Production Manager

Since graduating from Ottawa University in 2011, much has changed for Melissa Shewan, especially on a professional level. Working in multiple cities in Ontario for medium and large-sized enterprises, the thirty-one-year-old has noticed a shift in the labour force as there has been a noticeable increase of women hired in her field, which is something she is proud to be a part of.

Shortly after graduation, Shewan worked as a supply chain analyst at Canadian Tire’s headquarters in Toronto. She loved her job; she enjoyed the responsibility of managing inventory for products like pressure washers and car shelters.

During one of her regular shifts in the fall of 2012, Shewan had the opportunity to tour one of Canadian Tire’s distribution centres; this one in Brampton. However, there was nothing routine about the visit as the experience proved to be a catalyst of change for her future. She was drawn to the finely tuned automation of the warehouse, machines working in unison, precisely packaging products.

“I remember just being completely mesmerized by the whole operation because everything was automated,” says Shewan, a Bachelor of Commerce graduate with a specialization in management. She adds, “Everything was so perfectly planned and executed. Items were going onto conveyors then traveling throughout the whole distribution centre. It was fascinating.”

A few years later, Shewan and her now husband packed their bags and moved back to where she grew up in Greater Sudbury, Ontario. Shewan didn’t have to wait long to find employment, especially in two areas she has a passion for: manufacturing and automation. In March 2014, Shewan started working as a project coordinator for Hard-Line, a leading supplier of automation, tele-operation, and remote-control technology for the mining industry. Hard-Line has offices and distribution partners all over the world including its headquarters and Technology Centre in Greater Sudbury.  In her first role at Hard-Line, Shewan worked closely with the design team to help manage client projects.

Shewan worked her way up to her current position of Materials and Production Manager, a title she has held since 2017. Shewan manages the supply chain of the company focusing on production output. She makes sure customers’ expectations are met while working closely with the production planner, warehouse team, and the purchasing and logistics departments.

“I have always had an interest in inventory management and it just kind of blossomed into manufacturing,” says Shewan who recently received designation becoming APICS certified in Production and Inventory Management.

As Shewan continues to build her skill set, she says she has noticed a welcomed change at Hard-Line since she first started. “Five years ago, there were only a few women working in manufacturing in production. I’d say now we are more female-dominated in our supply chain departments.” She says of the 28 employees on her team, 15 are women. One third of Hard-Line’s 140 employees are women with the management team seeing equal representation.

“I’ve noticed I’m not the only female in those meetings anymore. Now I’m seeing half and half,” says Shewan. She believes the workplace has become more dynamic as seeing more women on board is refreshing.

“It’s definitely changed our work environment for the better. We have a very nice balance.”