Shelley Padnos’ Lifetime Achievement Award Acceptance Speech

This week’s Industry Voices is an excerpt from Shelley Padnos’ Lifetime Achievement Award acceptance speech on April 28 during ISRI2021. Many of the programs available in ISRI2021 will remain available to convention registrants through May 20 on demand. The exhibit hall will remain open during that time as well.

I am speaking to you today from our board room in Holland, MI. If you take a peak inside the board room, you will catch a glimpse of the people who made my being here today possible. My grandparents, Helen and Louis, my aunt and uncle, Stuart and Barbara, and my parents, Seymour and Esther. Only my Mom is still with us and we celebrated her 93d birthday just two weeks ago. But without each of them, my success and the success of our company would not have been possible.

My achievements also could not have been possible without the active participation in our company of my cousins, Jeff and Doug, and my brother Mitch. I always tease my brother by telling people to never work with your brother, but the truth is that I would not have wanted to do this without him. And my life would have been a whole lot less interesting without my spouse of almost 30 years, Carol Sarosik.

When I became the ISRI President in 1998, I made history in a lot of different ways: I am the only person to have served as both the President and the Chair of the Board of ISRI; I am also the only person to have served as Secretary twice; and of course, I am the only woman to ever serve as a national officer of ISRI.

The first two points are interesting anomalies that will most likely never happen again, but the third point, while also a statistical anomaly, is one that I hope that we can change. Study after study has proven that diverse teams are stronger and more successful than teams made up of like-minded, similar people. And yet we at ISRl, and frankly, we in the scrap processing and recycling world, have barely managed to crack that glass ceiling again in more than 20 years.

If I can leave you with a message today, it is to think about your teams and look closely at them. If, as I suspect, they look very much like you in terms of demographics, please make a conscious effort to try to change that. This kind of change will only happen with conscious effort and thought. If you need some incentive, just take a look at the incredible effectiveness of your trade association and the staff that Robin Weiner has built. Your teams will be stronger, your businesses will be stronger and the world will be more of a fair place.

Once again, I want to say thank you for this honor. It means a great deal to me to be recognized by all of you.