Allison Hibbard almost didn’t take a job at Domtar. She turned down the opportunity in customer service at first. But thanks to her attitude and a network of helpful colleagues, Hibbard has advanced into a role where she shines.
Hibbard was introduced to Domtar while she was an area director for four fitness gyms. Rob Bailey, a director at Domtar and a member at one of those gyms, recognized her leadership and encouraged her to apply.
She was offered a customer service role in 2013, where she would support sales account managers by handling order details. The team managed millions of dollars of business annually, making it a challenging opportunity with plenty of room for growth.
But it was a step down from her role at the gym in both pay and responsibilities. She initially turned down the offer, accepting it only after a month’s reflection and some encouragement from Bailey.
“I realized that not every career move needs to be up the ladder,” says Hibbard. “There’s a stigma against downward or lateral moves, but sticking to a narrow path can be really restrictive. Joining Domtar gave me access to a world where I could go in many directions.”
From customer service to customer solutions
After 11 months of learning the ropes of customer service, Hibbard was promoted to team lead, which allowed her to leverage her coaching abilities. She helped team members gain promotions and move to other areas of the company.
“It’s important to help people identify what makes them tick so that they can continue along their own path,” she says.
Knowing what she wants to get out of her career — and being transparent about it — has enabled Hibbard to generate her own meaningful opportunities.
“Even if I have a great manager, I am responsible to drive my own career,” she says.
Dianne Brewer, director of production planning at Domtar, praises Hibbard’s talent and ethic.
“Allison excels at grasping complex situations quickly and has strong people and technical skills. Just as importantly, she leans into uncomfortable situations and is not afraid to make mistakes.”
Hibbard received a promotion last year to customer solutions manager of Domtar’s new packaging business.
“Working at Domtar checks all the boxes of what I enjoy. It’s a complex environment that requires teamwork, problem solving and continual learning,” she says. “I would not be here without having had the opportunity to work alongside so many leaders that I admire.”
Nichole Knight, director of inside sales at Domtar and a mentor to Hibbard, has been pleased to see her approach to problem-solving. Knight offered advice to others looking to broaden their scope and advance.
“You can ask to be part of projects that have impacts across the company,” Knight says. “You serve as the subject matter expert for your function, and you learn how the rest of the business works.”
That strategy has worked for Hibbard. She’s taken what she learned in customer service and built on those skills.
“On top of that, the manufacturing industry is an essential line of business,” she says. “That job security, especially in the current dynamic of the world where businesses come and go, is comforting and gives me confidence that I have room to grow even further in my career.”