Women in Business: Ashley Knight

Residence: Fayetteville

Education: Bachelor’s degree, biology, University of Arkansas at Monticello

Experience: In 2021, Knight was promoted to Chief Operating Officer after being president of the Walmart team. She joined the Harvest Group in 2011 and has previously worked for a number of consumer packaging companies. She began her career in retail in 2002 when she took a position at Walmart. She worked as a retailer in Bentonville for six years.

What was your dream job as a child and why? When I was 5, I always said I wanted to be a firefighter like my father. Later, I would arrange my baby dolls and pretend to be a teacher. I have always been attracted to work where I can help people.

What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry? Focus on growing emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is a key indicator of future leadership potential and is crucial for maintaining strong working relationships, leading people, serving customers and more.

Be curious and ask great questions. Experience the journey of the buyer yourself and be a student in business. Since I started at Walmart at the beginning of my career, I have been taught how important it is to be in the shops and get a first-hand view of the customer experience. E-commerce gives us a fun new way to actively engage and learn. Retail is ripe with opportunities for innovation and growth. Just get curious.

What is the next big personal or career challenge you plan to take on? Personally, I’m about to enter my teens with my eldest son, Parker, in seventh grade, and my youngest son, Beckett, in third grade. I seek wisdom from other parents further down the road as I prepare for this next parenting adventure.

Professionally, our company continues to grow rapidly. Growth provides opportunities to increase people and invest in new ways to serve our customers. I am excited about the challenge of continuing to develop and empower the incredibly talented people I work with, and to continue to renew the services we offer to ensure growth for our clients.

What is the best asset of a leader? Courage. I love Bren Brown’s quote: “A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for finding potential in people and processes and who has the courage to develop that potential.” Human development, innovation, vulnerability leadership and living our values ​​require courage. I strive to be a brave leader who is ready to do what is right and put others first.

Why do you think companies would benefit more women at the top? In my opinion, great companies create a culture in which they not only seek diversity, but also invite true belonging. Having an inclusive culture that seeks to grow and improve through perceptions and learning from different backgrounds, experiences, perspectives and more will position companies not only to win in the market, but also to be a place that attracts and retains the best talents.

What is something distinctive that people would be surprised to learn about you? I love planning parties and organizing events. This is a creative way out for me and I like to plan all the little details that will make it special. More importantly, I like to use parties to make others feel special or celebrated. My favorite moment with the kids is watching their faces as everyone gathers to sing a happy birthday. It’s so much fun to see their faces light up. Pure joy.

Favorite restaurant in the Northwest Arkansas area? Atlas of Fayetteville. This is my husband Scott and my favorite meeting place.

The latest book you’ve read? Atlas of the Heart. I love Bren Brown.

What is unique about your company’s culture? I feel so grateful to work for the Harvest Group. We are a value-driven company with a culture focused on serving something greater than ourselves. I love our people-oriented culture, which is focused on serving our customers and helping each other grow. Harvest Group is a place where we can include our whole selves at work and feel comfortable being vulnerable. I am blessed to work with amazing people who inspire me and encourage me to be better every day.

If you have a list, what are the first three things in it? I am raising children who will be men of great character and who want to come back and see me when they don’t have to. Travel with my husband. I love exploring new places and I have many places on my list. Baking excellent French pasta. This is my favorite dessert. I don’t know why they are so difficult to do.

You stay busy professionally. How do you take care of yourself and maintain good mental health? I do not always understand it correctly and I have to give myself a lot of grace. I strive to keep my priorities in perspective and work deliberately every day to actively balance family and work. As a follower of Jesus, my faith is fundamental, and taking quiet time to read and pray is so important to my mental health.

I love being active with my boys, Parker and Beckett. Whether it’s football, basketball, swimming or hiking, I love spending time with them.

I also think it’s important to laugh. I am really grateful to have family, friends and colleagues who bring a lot of joy and laughter into my life.

How has mentoring changed your professional and personal life? I was lucky to have amazing people along the way who gave so much wisdom for the road ahead. I love one of Andy Stanley’s messages where he mentions he borrowed someone else’s card. It is so helpful to have others on the journey who can help you think about what lies ahead, set a direction, and remind you to recognize the joy that comes from traveling.

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