Latest Presenter at TICF Puts Authenticity at the Center Of Her Career
As part of its monthly series, “All I Know So Far,” Toyota Industries Commercial Finance (TICF) welcomed Shawntel Hebert Clark, Managing Attorney for Employment at Vanderlande Industries, who discussed how she used authenticity to overcome biases, set boundaries, and create the career that allows her to show her whole self.
After attending Howard University in Washington, D.C., and while attending law school at Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia, Shawntel completed an in-house internship rotation, during which she realized that she liked employment law for its ties to human resources and emphasis on people.
Passing the bar on her first sitting, Shawntel was hired by a boutique labor and employment firm in Atlanta, but it wasn’t long before she realized her talents weren’t being embraced. Worse still, she didn’t feel as though she could bring her full self to work. Yet she persevered and was stunned when less than two years later, she was asked to leave the firm.
“Devastation doesn’t begin to explain what I felt,” she says, adding that given her successful track record, this was the first time she’d had a significant setback. “Everyone will have a humbling experience, and that was mine.”
Not one to give up, she soon joined Taylor English Duma LLP, a newer firm in Atlanta that was expanding its employment team. There, she felt comfortable being her whole self, which was embraced and celebrated by her collogues at the firm.
“The only answer is to do the work, learn your craft, and obtain excellent client results.”
While she achieved partner during her 12 years there, her tenure wasn’t without biases, ranging from racial bias to gender and age bias by clients, opposing counsel, and others. “The only answer is to do the work, learn your craft, and obtain excellent client results,” she says.
During that time, Shawntel became president of the Gate City Bar Association, the oldest African American bar association in the state of Georgia. She has also received numerous awards, including being named to both the National Bar Association Best Advocates and the Atlanta Business Chronicle‘s “40 Under Forty” lists.
As with many people during the COVID-19 pandemic, Shawntel took stock of her life and ambitions and decided to move to an in-house position. Despite the male-dominated environment common to a tech-heavy firm, she found a match with Vanderlande Industries, a global material handling and logistics automation company.
“Vanderlande Industries has a consensus-building culture, and our goal is to ensure that we are treating employees fairly.”
“I’m able to use everything I’ve learned in nearly 15 years of practice,” she explains. “Vanderlande Industries has a consensus-building culture, and our goal is to ensure that we are treating employees fairly.”
One lesson she’s learned is the importance of maintaining balance and boundaries. “You have to be open about your limits and be realistic about what you can or cannot do at certain points in your life and your career,” says Shawntel.
And whether she’s setting a boundary or charmingly warning employees about their legal obligations, Shawntel will be doing it with her signature authenticity.