Name: Emma Nealy
Current Position: Marketing Manager at Versico Roofing Systems
How many years have you been in the roofing industry? Almost 8 years
Can you tell us about your career path and what led you to the roofing industry?
I spent my summers throughout college working for the Department of Agriculture at the Farm Show Complex and although it wasn’t within the roofing industry, I really enjoyed the people that I worked with and came in contact with throughout my time there. I knew that when I graduated college, I wanted to find a similar role like the one that I had there. I spent my next 5 years after college in sales, but within an industry I didn’t enjoy. My best friend’s dad worked for Carlisle Construction Materials (CCM) and mentioned a few openings within the organization. I truly never saw myself working in the roofing industry, but I applied for a role within HR and the rest is history! Since joining CCM in 2013, I moved into a Marketing Manager role with Versico Roofing Systems, a division of Carlisle Construction Materials, and feel this is the best of both worlds: I get to use my Marketing degree and previous experience, but also spend a majority of my time in the field working with our Sales Reps and meeting our contractors which I really enjoy.
How has the industry become more inclusive of women throughout your career?
Organizations like NWIR have done a great job of bringing awareness to the roofing industry, while driving the momentum of inclusion of women. Throughout my career, I’ve noticed the industry become more inclusive of women, and although I think we still have work to do, we are moving in the right direction.
What do you find most challenging about being a woman in the roofing industry?
I look at the challenges of being a woman in the roofing industry as more of a motivation than a discouragement or obstacle. When I hear someone tell me things like “you know a lot about roofing for being a woman,”rather than taking offense, I take it as a compliment and it drives me to continue to learn as much about the industry as possible. There was definitely a learning curve for me and I remember one of my first roof walks that I did, I showed up in sandals, but I used that as a learning experience. I asked a lot of questions and tried to gain as much knowledge from my peers as possible. In this industry there is a high likelihood that people assume as a woman I don’t know much about roofing but proving everyone wrong is a challenge that I like to take head on.
Is there someone in your career that you’ve looked up to as a mentor or who has helped you along the way?
I was with CCM for about 3 years working in HR when the Marketing Manager role with Versico opened up. If we are being honest, I didn’t have all of the experience that was needed for the role and I had very little field experience. Frank Palmer hired me for the role and he spent the majority of his time teaching me everything that I needed to know about the industry, the brand, and the role. I would not be where I am today without the knowledge that he gave me. His experience in the industry makes him a great mentor.
What is the most rewarding part of your career?
Getting so many opportunities to get into the field, and working directly with our customers and the Versico staff are the most rewarding parts. I enjoy having our distributors and contractors tell me how easy it is to work with Versico and getting to know more about them, both professionally and personally. The roofing industry especially is a tight knit group and I really enjoy that aspect.
What inspires you?
I have four kids at home, two girls and two boys (3 step children ranging in age from 10-17, and my youngest who is 5). Having my kids be proud of me and ask questions about what I do during the day and what steps I took to get where I am today makes me feel like I’m doing something right. I want to instill in my kids that if you work hard and set your mind to something, you can absolutely achieve it, no matter what.
What advice would you give to a woman that is just starting out in roofing?
Look at challenges as opportunities to better yourself and never be afraid to ask questions. Don’t just assume you need to stay within the boundaries of your current role; ask for more responsibilities outside of your current role and gain as much exposure and knowledge in different areas as possible. Also, don’t be scared to fail, but when you fail, acknowledge the failure and learn from it to do better the next time.
By Chelsey Line