As we’ve seen throughout our series, being a woman in the powersports industry has its daily challenges. What drives some women, therefore, to dive into the powersports world as a professional career? For Samantha Ryan, it was a combination of opportunity and determination.
Now a BRP dealer, in partnership with her husband Jonathan, at PowerSports Regina (PSR) Ltd in White City, Saskatchewan, Samantha Ryan got her first taste of powersports in high school. Although she grew up on the prairies, she experienced snowmobiling for the first time only when she started dating Jonathan, and was surprised at how much she enjoyed it.
A few years later, in 2007, with a degree in Business Administration from the University of Regina, she and Jonathan had the opportunity to purchase a BRP dealership, and threw all their savings, determination and hard work into the business venture. Twelve years on, the business is successful, Samantha’s tried every BRP product, and the couple are raising a family of BRP enthusiasts.
Passionate and involved as she is in the powersports industry, we were curious to have Samantha’s point of view on the different challenges that women face in the business:
What’s it like to be a woman in the powersports industry?
I love being in the powersports industry! It was extremely intimidating at first, but as I became more familiar with the product lines and our customer base, it has slowly become second nature. There are of course challenging days, as with any industry, but when you are fortunate to work with products that you are passionate about, it makes most of the days fun and enjoyable.
I think many women are intimidated because of the mechanical service aspect of this industry. However, we need a whole team of professionals to make our business run smoothly.
How have things changed for women since you entered the job market?
When I first began working at PSR Ltd, I found our customer base was primarily men, even if the purchase was for the whole family. Now I find purchases are more evenly divided between men and women, and when purchasing a family toy, the whole family comes in to pick out and decide. I think this change is related to a shift in society, but also to how people feel when they come into our store particularly. We always include women among our staff, so everybody feels welcome and comfortable.
What advice do you have for women in business?
Choose an industry you’re passionate about. Work hard. Learn from your mistakes. Be patient and kind to yourself. Be curious. Surround yourself with great people. Those work for everyone. Especially for women, I’d say: be yourself, don’t change because of unnecessary expectations that others have of you. Being a woman is challenging in many industries, but remember, what makes us different is what makes us great. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind when appropriate and…it’s okay to be feminine!
How do you see the future?
I think the workplace is becoming more diverse daily. Employers are beginning to see the value-add in having a woman’s perspective and opinion when producing products or delivering services to market. What was once a male-dominated workforce is now slowly becoming a society that values the many attributes that females have to offer.
“Remember, what makes us different is what makes us great.”