This year in honor of Women’s History Month, Roofing Is Celebrating Women. Let’s not just celebrate the women who are written in the history books but let’s also celebrate ourselves. This month, you will see highlights of women to be celebrated within our industry.

Emma Nealy, Versico Roofing Systems

1. How did you get involved in the roofing industry?
My best friend’s dad worked for Carlisle Construction Materials for as long as I remember, and several years after graduating from college, I applied for a job within the same company. He always spoke highly of the company, and I also had several relatives that worked for the company as well. I got the job and have been with the company ever since.

2. What is one of the key things you’ve learned about yourself that you wish you would’ve known when you first entered the roofing industry?
I have learned that I like to take the road less traveled and at times, question the norm, asking “why”. This is not something that I necessarily did not already know about myself prior to entering the roofing industry, but what I wish what I would have known, is that there is nothing wrong with that. Often, I was worried that not following along with what everyone else was doing was a bad thing, when in reality, it has made me who I am today and contributed to my success that I’ve had within this industry.

3. In the spirit of Women’s History Month, who in your life has been an inspiring female figure that has helped you get to where you are today, physically, emotionally, intellectually and/or spiritually?
This seems like a very cliché answer, but it would be my mother. My mom never had the opportunities like I did growing up to go to college or have some of the luxuries that I took for granted as a kid, but that never stopped her to work as hard as she possibly could to provide for us. She worked several different jobs growing up – everything from being a stay-at-home mom, to doing insurance work out of someone’s house and ended up having a very successful career with the state before she retired. She always has, and still does, have such a positive outlook on life and is truly a saint.

4. Who is one of your favorite Women in History?
I would have to say Aretha Franklin. Not just because I have always had a love of her music (I sang Respect in the 2nd grade to my entire class), but because she paved her own way in an industry that prior to her was dominated by male figures, becoming the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A close second would be Martha Stewart, primarily because she’s best friends with Snoop Dogg and I find that so intriguing.

5. As we know, many of the women in our industry are always juggling multiple responsibilities. How do you manage a work-life balance?
If there is any silver lining to COVID, it has allowed for me to step back a bit and improve my work-life balance. It’s so easy to get caught up in work, and with travel and sometimes the late hours this job requires, I don’t always feel like the balance is there, but regardless of if I’m spending time with my kids for one hour or one day, I make sure I’m present. I try to limit distractions when I’m spending family time to be fully focused on them, just as I try to do the same when I’m working.

6. Share an example of a time when you realized you were one of the first women at your job, school, family, or social organization to do something that had a meaningful impact or caused a positive change?
When I was in college at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, I immersed myself into pretty much every extracurricular activity my college of business had to offer. I held leadership roles in several of the organizations including the Student Marketing Association, Student Advisory Council and Phi Gamma Nu, which were mainly male dominated organizations. When I graduated, there were so many more women joining these organizations and going for leadership roles and I ended up being awarded with the Service Excellence Award and the IUP Women’s Leadership Award that year.

7. Share something that you have been a part of that other women can follow in your footsteps and pave new trails in the industry?
For many years now, I’ve participated in a mock interview and career spotlight event at my local high school. Although it usually only takes place a couple times a year, it gives me an opportunity to talk about my career path and options within the roofing industry. This has stemmed into several students, many being females, asking to job shadow me and learn more about my job, which has been a great experience. Getting involved and volunteering at a local high school where you live would be a great recommendation that I’d make to any woman in our industry to spread the word on the opportunities that exist within our industry.