Shylo Werner is the safety and training manager for the Kelowna Regional Transit System. Coming from a family of contractors she has had to endure her fair share of flack about working as a safety officer, she explained with a chuckle.
She wants to change how the public views safety professionals.
“Safety professionals are not here to condemn everybody or catch them in the act. We’re trying to enact positive change and prevent really negative things from happening,” said Werner.
This safety manager knows firsthand the heartbreak and devastation that catastrophes cause. Werner worked as a paramedic in Alberta for years before transitioning into the transit industry.
Initially, she worked as a driver for HandyDart before moving up the ranks into management. Her experience has given her a unique perspective and helped form her positive management style.
“I like to catch drivers doing things right,” she said. “That positive reinforcement goes a long way.”
Werner said, that she has had success with this method and her employees have reported that they enjoy it.
She also works to foster a respectful and productive relationship between her employees and management. Werner has an open door policy and goes above and beyond to ensure all her employees feel safe and supported.
She has also worked to optimize the training process for recruits and is currently working to build a team of drivers in Kelowna.
“In an average day I wear a lot of different hats,” said Werner.
She is in charge of hiring, training, safety and efficiency, to name a few. She spends time on the roads with drivers, using a hands-on and approachable training.
Unfortunately, bus drivers have had a hard time during the pandemic. They have had to deal with verbal and physical abuse due to mounting tensions around COVID-19.
“It’s a stressful job,” said Werner about being a bus driver. Because of her past experiences, Werner can meet employees in various circumstances to help them manage issues that may have occurred.
Kelowna transit is an inclusive employer, said Werner.
The first thing you see when walking into the office is a pride flag followed by bulletin boards full of posters for different local cultural days and well-used menus pined up from a wide variety of locally-owned restaurants, explained Werner.
As someone marginalized in her field, Werner has had to learn to manage discrimination. She has faced push back from others as a female working in a male-dominated industry.
“I don’t like to drop to a negative level. I will maintain the integrity and try to keep open-minded,” said Werner.
“We need to lift each other up.”