An Interview With Three Amazing Woman Leaders From NEA

An Interview With Three Amazing Woman Leaders From NEA

International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of remarkable women. It’s also a time to acknowledge the progress made and the continued climb for equality. 

Northeast Alternatives has many exceptional female leaders, across all departments. Ahead of International Women’s Day, we sat down to speak with three of them: Shelby Griebel – Vice President of Operations, Rachel Gath – Distribution Manager, and Emily Willis – VP, Supply Chain. We asked them five questions to gain further insight into their experiences in the cannabis industry. They also offered some advice for women interested in joining it. Here’s what they had to say.

Q: In your opinion, does the cannabis industry greet women with the same welcome as cannabis culture?

Shelby: Absolutely. I joined the cannabis industry because I felt I would have more doors open to me opposed to a traditional manufacturing industry.  

Rachel: I think bigotry of any kind just exists in humans. You’re going to find it in any industry, including cannabis. Though it does seem more welcoming than other fields.

Q: Does the cannabis industry focus on skills and ability over gender identity? Do you feel like you must work harder to prove yourself?

Emily: Coming from outside cannabis, yes in some respects. When you come from outside the industry, some people feel you need cannabis experience to properly do the job. But sometimes business is just business.

Shelby: I feel that NEA focuses on skills and ability as well as performance. Personally, I do feel like I must work harder to prove myself. But that’s not because the industry or my current company pressures me to. It’s self-imposed. 

Q: What would you like to see change for the better in the cannabis industry?

Shelby: I would like to see more emphasis on professionalism and business acumen for all employees in the industry. I think this is an extremely tough industry and market and to be successful we must all understand that we’re manufacturing a product and there are costs incurred to make these products and a keystone price in the market that we can sell these products at. 

Rachel: More women in executive positions where they can make powerful decisions that are going to positively impact the company and the people.

Q: What motivates you to stay passionate about your work?

Rachel: I love developing my team to accomplish a common goal and seeing them rise to leadership positions.

Emily: Leaving something as good, or better than you found it.

Shelby: I’m constantly being challenged, and it encourages me to continue learning. It keeps me engaged.

Q: What advice would you give women who are just getting into the Cannabis Industry with the goal of reaching a leadership position?

Rachel: Learn everything you can. If a department needs help, and your manager is okay with you putting in some overtime if things are slow, see if it’s ok to help with post-harvest. You just want to absorb everything you can, and network with other female leaders. I think that’s what it’s about – learning everything you can, then using your resources and networking with other female leaders who are hopefully opening doors for other female leadership opportunities.

Emily: Don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress. If you never go after anything because you’re worried you won’t be perfect at it, then that’s extremely limiting to people.

Shelby: Just go for it!

In celebration of International Women’s Day, Northeast Alternatives is also highlighting the amazing women of our company on our LinkedIn page. Let’s continue to champion equality, diversity, and empowerment – not just for one day or a month, but every day.

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