30 in Their Thirties: Shanell Weatherspoon // 37

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Lead Human Resources Business Partner | General Motors Co., Detroit | Employees: 216,000 |

Revenue: $156B | Michigan State University, University of Michigan-Flint

Like many of its counterparts in urban areas, the Pontiac School District suffers from relatively high dropout rates, which means there are fewer Pontiac students heading for college. Despite this reality, many of the school district’s students have talent and determination, says Shanell Weatherspoon, who is dedicated to helping them reach their full potential.

A 1996 graduate of (the now-closed) Pontiac Central High School, Weatherspoon worked as a forklift truck driver at GM’s assembly plant in Lake Orion while in college. Today, in addition to providing human resources support to GM’s Powertrain Engineering Group in Pontiac, she takes a special interest in local students.

“Pontiac has the world’s best dynamometer lab and engine and transmission testing facilities. We really want (young people) to understand what we do and how they can become a part of GM’s next 100 years.” 

Weatherspoon was instrumental in 2013 in helping to expand GM’s college internship program at the Powertrain Engineering Group to include students from Pontiac High School and its satellite facility, the International Technology Academy. 

“I look for opportunities where we can increase our diversity and find talent in places where we haven’t customarily looked,” she says. “Right now students are working in our dynamometer lab, and learning all the roles of the technician. A lot of the students have aspirations of being engineers, so they’ll have the opportunity to get engineering experience, as well.”

Outside of work, Weatherspoon and her husband, who owns a small-business consulting firm, are equally involved in students’ lives.

“As they get older, students reach out to my husband for career advice,” she says. “I help them get a better understanding of their skills and passions, and how they can turn those interests into a career.” 

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