Stephanie Henry shares her insights on returning to school as a mature student, professional development, and diving deeper into the automotive space.
Making a career change or returning to school as a mature student can be daunting. What advice would you give to those thinking about continuing their education?
Take it from me, I never thought I’d return to school. I thought once I finished my degree in Sociology and got my diploma in Broadcast Journalism that I would be done FOREVER! I thought I’d just start my career and move along from there. However, when you finally get going you realize that you still have a ladder to climb within your organization. A lot of the time it doesn’t require going back to school, but if going back to school not only increases your knowledge or your chance at a higher wage and makes you more valuable to your company, then how could you not jump at the opportunity? The advice I live by is to have more than one thing you’re good at. Have a backup plan. Give yourself as many options as possible. Don’t get hired into a big corporation/a job you think will be around forever and then fall asleep at the wheel. Remain passionate, driven, keep thinking about where you want to be in the next 5 years and how you can continue to elevate yourself to meet your goals.
Since graduating from a journalism program, what inspired you to pursue education in the automotive space?
Being a Black woman, you’re expected to work harder, be able to do it all, be that much smarter and have much more experience under your belt compared to your peers. That has always shaped the way I looked at education and opportunity. For a long time, I followed my heart practically when it came to my education. I studied Sociology at York University because it could lead to plenty of different career paths. I studied Broadcast Journalism at Seneca @ York because I could have my pick between radio, television, print, or digital. Both subjects I was passionate about, but I never put all my eggs in one basket because I didn’t want to block myself from an opportunity. This made me versatile. I started in radio and was able to switch to Breakfast Television as a morning show host and traffic reporter. This ultimately led to me doing an increasing amount of automotive content. Five years into my career and three years into my TV gig I thought to myself; how can I take my traffic reporter job and make it work for me? That is how I ended up diving into the automotive industry headfirst, becoming the CEO of my own company ‘She Auto Know’ while enrolling at the Automotive Training Center of Toronto in an in-depth 1-year service technician program.
How has studying at trade schools and polytechnic institutions helped shape your career?
Let’s be honest in saying that there are few Black women in the automotive space. As a Black woman, I’ve been scrutinized, lost out on opportunities & at times have not been taken seriously — especially when it comes to having authority in this space. These experiences leave room for me to go through imposter moments. Studying at trade school is something I wanted to do to increase my knowledge on the inner workings of vehicles, learn more about electric vehicles and network while being more confident in auto to help me build my company. It has also served as validation for some of my peers to take me seriously in this space. I hope by continuing my journey and showing up in this space that I can inspire more people who look like me to think about automotive as a career path while at the same time getting everyone used to seeing more Black women making waves in the automotive industry!
Coming up on April 27 and 28, I am hosting the Toronto Womxn in Data Science conference — an event putting a spotlight on education for young women while creating more opportunities for women and women of color in the data science space.
To keep up with Stephanie’s journey, visit StephanieLHenry.com or on Instagram @henrylstephanie