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Ashly Neneman, General Manager at Sun Valley Landscaping

Q: How did you get involved in the industry?

Back in 2011, I was told about a “business manager” opportunity at a local landscape company. Having no background in the industry, I was hesitant, but after hearing the CEO’s vision and goals, I was intrigued and convinced I could be an asset.

Q: What is your job and what does it entail?

I have worked as the General Manager of Sun Valley Landscapes for the past four years now. In this role, I oversee the operations of our company; marketing, recruiting, HR, production, retail yard sales, fleet and equipment and overall driving our team towards our strategic goals and fostering our culture.

Q: What does your typical day look like? How has your career grown since you started?

My career evolved into the GM position from a business development role. In 2015 we realized we were lacking a leader that could take us to the next level from a systems and operational standpoint and that our CEO was spending all of his time in the business instead of working ON the business. A typical day for me isn’t really typical and one of the things that I love the most is the chance to teach and develop others. I check in with my team to see how I can help them and understand what their roadblocks are. I am looking at reporting, communicating about daily/weekly results, holding one-on-one meetings with our team, leading and participating in various meetings and working on preparing for the next season in our business.

Q: What’s the coolest part of your job?

The thing I love most about my job is the diversity of each day and the responsibility I have but the coolest part of what I do would have to be scaling the company so that we can create life-long and satisfying careers for people. There is nothing “cooler” than learning that one of your employees just purchased their first home or just purchased the company plan health insurance for their entire family. The employees who find their place in our company, the ones that find their passion, they are the reason we keep growing; they are the responsible for our success.

Q: What are your long-term career goals?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately and my long-term career goals are business ownership and/or a CEO role after a few more years of scaling this company.

Q: What strengths do you bring to your job that help you succeed in a male-dominated field?

Grit. You must have a lot of grit and thick skin if you are going to succeed in a green industry leadership position, regardless of your gender. Other strengths that have helped me navigate a male-dominated industry are persistence, empathy and a strong instinct about people and situations. I have learned to stop going against my gut because it has yet to fail me.

Q: What would you tell women who are thinking about a career in this industry?

Women in general have historically been characterized as being more emotional, compassionate or even nurturing. I think that is exactly what this industry needs from a leadership standpoint. The small to medium sized businesses that I see struggling are missing the mark because they typically aren’t employing more women in their companies. I would tell women who are thinking about a career in the green industry that the possibilities are endless. Open your mind; it’s not just plant lovers that work in this industry. There is so much more!

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