Women in Business: Ashley Knight

Residence: Fayetteville

Education: BS, biology, University of Arkansas at Monticello

Professional background: In 2021, Knight was promoted to chief operating officer after serving as president of the Walmart team. She joined Harvest Group in 2011 and previously worked for multiple consumer packaged goods companies. She began her career in the retail industry in 2002 when she accepted a position at Walmart. She worked for the Bentonville retailer for six years.

What was your dream job as a kid and why? When I was 5, I always said I wanted to be a fireman like my dad. Later, I would line up my baby dolls and pretend I was a teacher. I was always drawn to jobs where I could help people.

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

Be curious and ask great questions. Experience the customer shopper journey yourself and be a student of the business. As I started at Walmart early in my career, I was taught the importance of being in stores and getting firsthand perspective on the customer’s experience. E-commerce gives us a fun new way to actively engage and learn. The retail industry is ripe with opportunities to innovate and grow. Just get curious.

What’s the next big personal or career challenge you plan to take on? Personally, I am about to enter the teenage years with my oldest son, Parker, heading to seventh grade, and my youngest son, Beckett, is heading into third grade. I am seeking wisdom from other parents farther along the journey as I prepare for this next adventure in parenting.

Professionally, our company continues to grow rapidly. Growth provides opportunities to grow people and invest in new ways to serve our clients. I am excited about the challenge of continuing to develop and empower the incredibly talented people I get to work alongside and continue to innovate our service offering to deliver growth for our clients.

What is a leader’s best asset? Courage. I love Brene Brown’s quote: “A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.” Developing people, innovating, leading with vulnerability, and living our values ​​all take courage. I strive to be a courageous leader who is willing to do what is right and put others first.

Why do you think companies would benefit from having more women at the top? In my view, great companies create a culture where they not only seek diversity but invite true belonging. Having an inclusive culture that seeks to grow and improve by embracing and learning from different backgrounds, experiences, perspectives, and so much more will position companies to not only win in the marketplace but be a place that attracts and retains top talent.

What is something distinctive that people would be surprised to know about you? I love party planning and hosting events. It is a creative outlet for me, and I love planning all the little details that will make it special. Even more importantly, I love using parties to make others feel special or celebrated. My favorite moment with kids is watching their faces when everyone gathers around to sing happy birthday. It is so fun to see their faces light up. Pure joy.

Favorite Northwest Arkansas-area restaurant? Atlas in Fayetteville. It is my husband, Scott, and my favorite date night spot.

Most recent book you’ve read? “Atlas of the Heart.” I love Brene Brown.

What’s unique about your company’s culture? I feel so grateful to work for Harvest Group. We are a values-led company that has a culture focused on serving something greater than ourselves. I love our other-centric culture that is focused on serving our clients and helping each other grow. Harvest Group is a place where we can bring our whole self to work and feel comfortable being vulnerable. I am blessed to get to work with amazing people who inspire me and push me to be better every day.

If you have a bucket list, what are the top three things on it? Raising kids 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 locations on my list. Baking an excellent French macaron. It is my favorite dessert. I don’t know why they are so hard to make.

You stay busy professionally. How do you take care of yourself and maintain good mental health? I do not always get this right, and I have to give myself a lot of grace. I strive to keep my priorities in perspective and intentionally work every day at actively balancing family and work. As a follower of Jesus, my faith is foundational, and carving out 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 is soccer, basketball, swimming or hiking, I love spending time with them.

I also think it is important to laugh. I am really grateful to have family, friends and co-workers that bring a lot of joy and laughter into my life.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life? I have been fortunate to have amazing people along my journey who have provided so much wisdom for the road ahead. I love one of Andy Stanley’s messages where he mentions borrowing someone else’s map. It is so helpful to have others along the journey that can help you think about what is ahead, set direction and remind you to recognize the joy that comes from the journey.

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