My goal as 2020 ASA president is to help drive ASA programs deeper and deeper into our member organizations so that more of our members’ employees and customers are getting the full benefit of ASA. 

My strategy to accomplish this goal is to share how our members are using ASA programs in their businesses. This month, I want to highlight the incredible value that is being created in ASA’s Women in Industry (WII) division, in part, because it is not too late to register for the WII ELEVATE2020 conference April 21-23 in Charleston, South Carolina. 

I recently asked several WII members to share their experiences. Several members emphasized the great relationships and networking opportunities available at WII.

Teri Sharp, American Precision Supply: “The networking is great, and we have made some amazing friendships with women who are in our industry that we would not normally see in our geographical area. We enjoy our time away from the office getting to know other ladies who share similar duties in our industry, and we feel this benefits all women who are involved in our industry.”

Tracie Sponenberg, The Granite Group: “I was eager to connect with other women in the industry in the hopes of learning much more about this wonderful, complicated industry! As a woman and as a leader in the wholesale trade industry, it is integral to my own learning and development.” 

Marlee Gannon, Oatey: “WII has given me the opportunity to meet like-minded people who experience similar challenges, and it also has challenged me to be a better version of myself.”

Mary Burke, Burke Agency: “I have been an ASA WII member since its inception and was so fortunate to have served on the group’s executive council the past four years. The breadth of knowledge, strength and talent shared among its members has left me with a sense of profound respect, gratitude and confidence that our industry is stronger because WII exists.”  

Sheri Newman, Lion Plumbing Supply: “All these women are inspirations. They are confidence builders. They give you strength to try harder. They inspire you to be your best. They draw out the competitor in you.” 

Another area WII members praise ELEVATE for is the quality of speakers and the takehome value they receive.

Burke: “At the annual conferences I have been inspired by speakers such as Katty Kay talking about the “Confidence Code,” and Barbara Trautlein discussing how to lead impactful teams that make a difference with “Change Intelligence.”  You could have heard a pin drop as Col. Stacy Huser told us her story of “Unconventional Success,” and how today she leads the Airforce’s 90th Missile Wing — think nuclear missiles.  

Newman: “Our guest speakers always are inspiring. They create courage and confidence that I believe many women benefit from. Sian Smith (senior director of strategic procurement at Noble Corp., and general manager at Canadian master distributor Riptide Fulfillment Corp. ) shared her personal story. She was told: ‘A woman has never succeeded here. Good luck to you.’ I’m certain so many women have been told that same thing in the workforce. The stats she provided on the performance levels of companies that have women in leadership were eye-opening – profitability is between 48-53% higher for companies with the highest levels of women in leadership positions.”

As for providing value, the women involved all felt confident that it was a tremendous benefit to themselves and their companies.

Sharp: “I believe being involved in the ASA Women in Industry division has definitely benefited me as well as the coworker I have brought several times.”

Gannon: “When I first joined the industry almost five years ago, I was brand-new and really looking for guidance on how to best navigate this industry. What I found at my first Women in Industry conference has flourished the last few years into an incredible support system of professionals and friends.”

Burke: “Whether doing a roundtable with people in similar roles, having an informal conversation at a social event or hearing from a peer subject-matter expert, I always come back with fresh perspectives and something new to improve our business! I have learned something new from each meeting and conference, and I believe that the new friendships made and relationships deepened have strengthened our company.”  

Newman: “These meetings also create exposure for your company. If anyone is looking for the financial value of Women in Industry, look at the attendees, look at the leadership council. Don’t you want women like this on your team?” 

One thing is for sure, these women all plan to attend again in Charleston in April. 

Sharp: “We look forward to participating every year because the programming is wonderful.”

Gannon: “Women in Industry has given me mentors to look up to, opportunities to grow and learn, and a group of lifelong friends. It is one of my favorite events every year!”

Sponenberg: “The entire group was so welcoming, and I ended up learning so much and having so much fun that it immediately became one of my favorite events every year — and a must attend. This year, I’m bringing several other women from The Granite Group, and I know they will enjoy it as much as I did! It keeps getting better and better!”