This Sales Director Has Criss-Crossed Canada in Pursuit of New Challenges at Work
According to a recent survey from The Conference Board, 58% of workers are likely to leave their company if they don’t have access to professional development or career training. Enterprise Holdings understands this all too well, and believes that career development is critical to attracting and retaining top talent. In this series, three Enterprise employees share how they’ve worked their way up at the company, where internal mobility is embedded in the culture. Read on for part two, check out part one here, and stay tuned for part three.
When Ritu Shannon did a four-month internship at Enterprise Rent-A-Car during her sophomore year of college, she never imagined it would lead to a lifelong career at the company—yet more than two decades later, she’s still going strong.
“My internship was a ton of fun, and I got exposed to a lot of different aspects of the business,” Shannon says. “When I graduated, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but I’d had a good experience with Enterprise. My approach was let me get more experience and see where things lead. That was 22 years ago.”
Her career at Enterprise exemplifies the way the company champions internal growth and gives employees the opportunity to live and work all over the world. Over the course of her tenure, Shannon has criss-crossed Canada to take on various roles, starting as a management trainee in her hometown of Victoria on Vancouver Island. Today, she’s a sales director based in Toronto.
“It’s so special that Enterprise as an organization cares and wants people to develop and keep moving in their careers, whether that’s physically moving to a new place or moving into a more challenging role,” Shannon says.
Here, she talks about why she loves working for such a global company, how Enterprise supported her family through each move, and the importance of mentorship.
Tell us about your career trajectory at Enterprise.
I progressed pretty quickly. I had to move off Vancouver Island for my first promotion, so I went to Vancouver within my first year and a half at the company. I was based there for 13 years and had a variety of different roles, working in operations, commercial sales, and insurance marketing. I had a chance to try out different things so it stayed interesting.
I was always looking forward to what the next opportunity was going to be for me. In 2014, I moved to Ontario for the first time as a sales manager overseeing our travel agency segment. I got to travel a lot and go to some amazing places across Canada and the U.S. while representing our company.
I moved back to Vancouver in 2019 to take on a new challenge. It was a complete 180 from what I was doing before.I transitioned from leisure travel to being the director of our replacement insurance business for a new client in British Columbia. In 2021, I moved to Toronto for my current role as the sales director for Canada.
What are you responsible for in your current role?
I oversee our insurance partnerships for Canada, which is our biggest segment of business for Enterprise in Canada. I have a portfolio of five or six clients, and I work on contract negotiation and partner development, looking for opportunities and ways to collaborate with our business partners. I find it challenging but also very rewarding.
What is one benefit of the way Enterprise champions internal mobility and career growth?
The majority of our workforce started as management trainees, so everyone’s been in your shoes regardless of where you move up. I truly believe that I could reach out to anyone at any level of the organization and ask them for 15 or 30 minutes to chat. Everyone is incredibly approachable and supportive, and there are a lot of cheerleaders.
What do you love about working for such a global company?
The opportunities are endless. After my first move from Victoria to Vancouver, I thought, ‘I’d like to move to England one day.’ It hasn't happened yet and I don’t know if it’s in my career roadmap, but I know I could do it if I wanted to. You can go anywhere if you perform well and have good business results.
What challenges did you face relocating various times and how did you overcome them?
I’m a mom. If it was just me as an individual, it would be easy to pick up and go. Having a family adds an extra layer of complexity. Enterprise has a robust mobility program that makes it easy for people to move. The program helps with things like schools, extracurricular activities, and professional support for partners as well as for employees. They’ve thought through a lot of the challenges beforehand.
The hardest thing is the kids—but on the flip side, moving has also built a lot of resiliency in them. They’re so adaptable and incredibly social. Plus, they’ve gotten to experience living in different parts of Canada.
Tell us about Enterprise’s mentorship program and the impact it has on employees.
Mentorship and sponsorship is a critical part of working at Enterprise. As I’ve gotten further along in my career, I’ve been able to mentor others through the formal program, which is fulfilling and necessary. There are guidelines for our discussions and coaching before, during, and after about what the conversations should look like and how the mentor-mentee relationship should progress.
The program is also great because it exposes employees to people in various regions across whatever country they’re working in, which helps with the mobility piece. For example, I could chat with somebody based in a completely different part of Canada and share my story of mobility, maybe motivating them to pick up and move in an effort to progress their career.
In addition to the formal program, informal relationships are just as critical. I’ve had many mentors at different phases of my career who have helped to support my moves. I have some great folks who are newer in my life and my Enterprise career that I really look to. They challenge me and give me tough love when I need it, which I think is important.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about the rental car business?
People will think we just rent cars, but we’re a global mobility company. We’re a customer service company. We’re a technology company. It’s so much more than meets the eye.
We have to ask: Do you ever plan to leave Enterprise?
I think back to when I first started, and I was like, ‘Okay, I'll go rent cars for a little bit, and then I'll figure out what to do.’ Here I am 22 years later and still having the time of my life. I will be here until I retire.