Career Spotlight: Get to Know Charissa

an architectural panel foreman working for General Sheet Metal

Not only is this the coolest job I've ever had, but it was a game changer for my family. I’m extremely grateful to be where I am at in life today.

Charissa Shubert

Sheet Metal & HVAC Industry Testimonial: Charissa, Foreman

Hometown: Portland, Oregon

I live with: My boyfriend Geoff, my two kids – daughter Mallie (17) and son Timmy (10) – and our dog Buddy.

Education: Two years of community college for general education and five years in the apprenticeship for local 16 sheet metal workers!

Years in the industry: Six years in the industry – in high school I took metal shop all four years and drafting. I then started a retail job that I continued to work at for 13 years. While I worked there, I applied for the sheet metal apprenticeship. It took about a year to get accepted due to my limited experience. Once accepted, I started with my current employer have been here for six years.

My main responsibilities are: Working with our field foreman to fabricate our ACM panels and get them shipped to site in a timely fashion. Coordinating with our crew to find the most efficient and fastest way to manufacture our panels and get them out the door at the highest quality.

# of promotions since I started: Two; As a young apprentice I stepped into a leadership role quickly and became the lead for our panel crew, at the end of my apprenticeship I journeyed out to a foreman’s role immediately in charge of our Panel Department.

My job is: A life changer, challenging and exciting on a regular basis.

My first ever job was: Sale associate at a jewelry store.

My favorite subject in high school was: Art class, metal shop. I loved creating and building things even from a young age.

To be good at my job you need to: Be organized, very detailed. Everything we make is seen by the public. We want it to look good. Also, a good teacher – we need to be patient with the crew while learning new skills.

My favorite part of my job is: The people. They are like family. You typically spend more time with them then your own family. And seeing our final product on the building.  

My least favorite part is: The quick changes and tight timelines to hit when job sites have last minute changes.

How I got my start in the industry: I had been through a divorce and needed a change. At the time I was a struggling single mom and I went back to college – and hated it BTW! Then my little brother talked me into joining the union. It was a joke at first, but then I said what the heck, what can I lose? I might even like it. So here I am now and I wish I would have joined at 18 and not 28.

My advice to someone considering coming into this industry is: If you love to build things and that makes your brain tick, do it! Also, research it, talk to people and find out about their experiences. See if it’s the right fit for you. It’s tough work some days, mentally and physically, but for me the rewards outweigh the tough days by far. 

My favorite project was: KCRB, Knight Cancer Research Center. It was my first job that I was able to voice some ideas and use them and get out in the field and measure, draw and help install ACM Panels. It was a very big moment for me in my career, plus the building looks cool and it’s there for a good cause.

Proudest work accomplishment: When I started here, we had four architectural employees. I was also a scared new employee. My proudest moment is where I was able to speak up and work alongside the team while we grew bigger and bigger to the point of adding an additional department. There was no foreman for this position before me. It is so cool to see how I helped develop this area and was chosen to run it out of everyone that came through the shop. It made me feel more confident and knew I would do alright here. Not only is this the coolest job I have ever had, but it was a huge game changer for me and my family. I’m extremely grateful to be where I am at in life today.