Young Professional 2018: Shannon Aiello

Shannon Aiello, Co-Owner and Doctor of Audiology at Columbia Basin Hearing Center

Shannon Aiello

(Photo courtesy Rich Breshears of Breshears Photography)

Age: 35

Education: Doctorate of audiology

Hometown: Idaho Falls, Idaho

How long have you lived in the Tri-Cities? 11 years

Do you have family? Pets? Yes! We have a his, hers and ours family. My stepdaughters are 23 and 21, my son is 13, and our daughter is 7. I am also a big animal lover and have many other babies with fur, feathers and fins.

Briefly describe your company: Columbia Basin Hearing Center is a family-owned private audiology practice that has been serving southeast Washington for more than 40 years. Our doctors of audiology and hearing care team specialize in all aspects of hearing evaluation and treatment to help our patients ultimately achieve better living through better hearing. We are passionate about providing unique, patient-centered care and service so that our patients experience the best in hearing health.

How long have you worked there? More than 11 years

What word best describes you? Passionate

Your biggest flaw? Perfectionism

Biggest pet peeve? Poor grammar

Dream vacation? Anywhere outdoors surrounded with adventures with no Wi-Fi

Favorite movie? Modern-day musicals

Favorite musician? Bruce Springsteen

Favorite sports team? Seahawks and Mariners (go Washington sports!)

Favorite website/app? Fitbit fanatic

Favorite Tri-City restaurant? Classic Cedars on the deck

Favorite thing to do in the Tri-Cities? I love running the river walkways, hiking Badger and the Horse Heaven Hills, taking the kids to the splash pads and summer nights enjoying live music and our awesome regional wine on the deck of a winery.

What thing would people be most surprised to learn about you? I have a congenital heart defect that was diagnosed three years ago.

If you could have dinner with one person (living or deceased) who would it be? Condoleezza Rice and Mother Teresa

Describe your job: My husband and I are both doctors of audiology and own/operate Columbia Basin Hearing Center. I joined this team in 2007 as an intern, and have worked my way up to director of audiology and ultimately practice manager. Starting as a hearing care provider focused on helping people, and gradually expanding my knowledge of the business aspect of the practice provided me a strong foundation for leading Columbia Basin Hearing Center through some difficult economies, as well disruptive technologies and distribution channels. Throughout the challenges our small business has faced in the past 10 years, Columbia Basin Hearing Center is now the largest private practice hearing care clinic in Eastern Washington. In my time here, my husband has transitioned more into patient care, as I have stepped into more of a leadership/operational role in the practice. I have always been very attracted to my field as I am a “helper” and now get to help not only my patients, but my amazing team that surround me daily.

Mentors: I have been blessed with some life changing mentors. My father is my most trusted mentor. After graduation in small town USA, he joined the Navy to see the world and have an opportunity of education, which was something he and his family could not afford. From his humble start, he received his education and began working his way up the ladder at national space centers. He is currently a successful and prominent manager at Bechtel in Idaho Falls, and still my closest counsel when I encounter struggles (or opportunities depending on how you see them) in the business and leadership world. He has taught me to listen, to lead and to logic with a business mind.

My other mentor is my husband who has stood by my side and helped build me both as a doctor as well as business owner. Like the old saying, opposites attract and we truly are opposite personally and professionally. Although this has its challenges, it also makes me view things through a different lens and open my horizon to different ways of thinking, growing and leading.

My last mentor that has greatly influenced me has been a treasure. I met Gary first in the clinic. He is now in his 80s; when I met him he was in his 70s. He first came to CBHC as a patient. We helped him with his hearing and created great dialogue in which I learned about his past employment as a turnaround guy for failing radio stations, manager of large scale malls and a motivational teacher. We hired him as a part-time business consultant and I still meet regularly with Gary for coaching sessions. He is my boots on the ground who has grown me from a young doctor put in a leadership role, to the compassionate, savvy leader that I am today.

What do you like most/least about your job? I cannot describe the feeling of giving people the gift of better hearing. Improving hearing is not just about selling a hearing aid, it is about seeing the joy in my patients faces when they come back and tell me that they could hear their grandchildren at the birthday party last week, hear their friends at Wednesday coffee, or confidently hear their boss in the last meeting. I get to live the videos you see on Facebook of people hearing for the first time over and over again, and it never gets old.

What I like least about my job is the strained time I have to do it all. Between seeing patients full-time in the clinic and running marketing, HR, networking, and any other aspect of the practice (or fires that come up that day), there are very few days that sitting down to lunch is a reality.

What was your first job?  My first job was at Dairy Queen and boy, did I learn to hustle there among many other life lessons! I think fast food is an experience that EVERYONE should have. Those are some of the hardest working people out there. I was thrown into the fire, with little training, grouchy co-workers who were most probably Dairy Queen lifers, and a clock always ticking to get the next person their Oreo Blizzard.

As a first job, this was humbling in many ways. I learned quickly how to work hard, fast and efficiently (because if you get an order wrong you had to do it again and you were farther behind than what you started). I learned service with a smile even when the stress was on. I learned the customer is always right and if for some reason they were wrong, in their head they are right so we made it right for them. I learned that sometimes, just when you think it’s time to close up, the Saturday night football game ended and there was a line out the door until 2 a.m. I learned to get my hands dirty and what it was like to be low man on the totem pole.

Achieving work-life balance: Ah, the “work-life balance” buzz phrase. Being a very busy, passionate person who wants to do everything and change the world now, this is one that I have to be very careful with.

My work-life balance started with analyzing my priorities, and then organizing my life and some boundaries to make sure that I am honoring the things that are most important to me. Between being a doctor, a practice owner, a manager, a networker, a mother, a wife, a friend, a woman’s group leader, a runner, a Christian, a crazy chicken lady with a gentleman’s farm and the two to four nonprofits that I am involved with, it takes constant self-checks to make sure I am devoting my time and efforts to the things that really count. It means saying no to some OK things so I can say yes to the right thing. It means limiting my evenings out during the week to once (twice at the most) so I have time to help with homework. It also means giving myself the grace for the weeks that no matter what I try, life is crazy. It also means that I know there is no “balance,” and I’m OK with that. Life is not Facebook perfect and I am not nor do I want to be Super Woman, Susie Homemaker, or the Badass Boss Babe with the corner office. I am me, and I am completely satisfied with knowing that every day I gave whatever I am doing my best shot, and tomorrow is always a new day.

Oh, and I run a lot to keep away the crazy that comes with this lifestyle that I live and love.

Community involvement: I am a member and president-elect of Soroptimist International of Three Rivers, which is focused on raising scholarships and increasing education opportunities for local women and children.

Hearing aids sadly are a luxury that is not affordable to many as insurance does not cover them. CBHC teamed up with the Starkey Hearing Foundation. We are now able to provide excellent hearing aids to low income seniors that qualify through their program.

I am also a preceptor for Pacific University, and I mentor audiology students at our clinic through this program. We also frequently have local undergraduate or high school students come do observations for the summer, which is something I love being involved with.

Finally, I am extremely active in my local church and Christian community.

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