Shaun Skinner, president and CEO of Isuzu Commercial Truck of America, started his career with Isuzu in 1987 on the light-duty side of the business. His interest in the truck division grew because he thought it was the core competency of the company and desired to become more involved in it.
“Some of the team members I knew that had moved over to that side of the business seemed to enjoy it, so I voiced my interest. The joke was they put me on a diesel IV drip to get me moving from the car side to the truck side to have a better understanding of everything,” he said.
From 2002 to 2008, he participated in marketing and sales, and in 2008 he became the executive VP general manager of Isuzu Commercial Truck of America and president of Isuzu Commercial Truck of Canada.
However, it was through an unusual experience that he learned a vital lesson of leadership: the importance of preparation.
Sparking an Interest
The family of one of Skinner’s friends owned one of the largest fireworks companies in the US. Even though they were based on the west coast, their company was responsible for the Macy's Fourth of July Spectacular show in New York City. Being a bit short-handed on mechanically-inclined helpers, he made a deal with some of his friends that if they could take time off of their real jobs, he would pay their way. So, Skinner took a week off from Isuzu to offer his help.
After starting in the early 90s, he assisted for four years but decided to stop due to increasing responsibilities at home.
“At that point, it became a bit selfish on my part to abandon my family for a week at a time. It took a huge amount of time to set up for a show that was just 30 minutes long. It was seven days or more of hard labor,” he explained.
Go Out with a Bang
From his time working with fireworks, Skinner jokingly said he learned to not “be a dud.” But that’s not the only takeaway he gained from the experience.
“There's a lesson to be learned about being prepared. It takes a lot of time to properly set up for something that occurs in such a short window of time. It took a tremendous amount of effort to choreograph the fireworks with the music. A lot goes into making a show that big come off as ‘spectacular,’” he noted.
When one witnesses first-hand the amount of effort it takes behind the scenes to make an operation seem effortless, one gains a new appreciation for what teamwork and hard work can accomplish.
“It takes a lot of homework and time to get that many people working together to synchronize everything in such a wonderful manner,” he said.