Breaking the glass ceiling
When it comes to women in flooring, Amy Manley stands out. She has risen through the (male-dominated) ranks since 2009, ultimately reaching the position of first female divisional vice president for Shaw Floors. She is one of few women in flooring who have effectively broken the glass ceiling, and continues to grow her skill set and knowledge base in order to support the needs of the industry.
FCNews sat down with Manley, divisional vice president of the Northwest, to discuss her road to success, the driving force behind her achievements, challenges she has faced (and overcome) and her advice for other women in the flooring industry.
FCNews: What drew you to the flooring industry?
Manley: Coming into the flooring industry was never something I imagined I would do. In 2009, amidst the ongoing recession, I found myself in the job market. I always worked in sales and was looking for an outside sales position. I have several friends who work for Shaw, and I had heard incredible things about the company. When the opportunity presented itself, I jumped at it. After joining Shaw, I was drawn to the core values—honesty, integrity and passion—and the way I saw them brought to life every day. They say that once you start in this industry you never get out. I don’t know why you would want to! This industry is built on hard-working people who care for each other like family.
FCNews: Where did you start your career, and how have you grown your position since then?
Manley: I began my career with Shaw in the Spring of 2009 as a Philadelphia Commercial territory manager (TM) covering Northern Colorado and Wyoming. I didn’t have any experience in flooring. Thinking back on that time and how inexperienced I was about the industry, it’s a miracle I lasted. Luckily, I had some fantastic customers who helped “train me,” not only on product but on what makes a great sales representative. It seemed like every call I took at that time was followed by me saying, “I’m not sure, but I will find out and get right back to you.” My success was built on asking questions and following through when saying I would do something.
Over the years, I’ve continued to take the same approach: ask questions, do what you say and always think about how you are adding value with either a customer or Shaw. My leadership style revolves around building the right team and giving them the autonomy to use their individual talents to drive success. When I interviewed for my regional vice president position, I was asked where I saw myself in five years. My answer was, “running the No. 1 division in the country for Shaw.” In the summer of 2019, I landed that job as divisional vice president of the Northwest.
FCNews: You are the first female division VP. What was the driving force behind your growth? And what do you think about being the first woman in that position?
Manley: It’s hard to narrow down one driving force behind my success. I was brought up by a mother who worked in a male-dominated industry during a time when it was very difficult for women to push past being more than an executive assistant. She set an example of what hard work and commitment can help you achieve. I watched her go from answering phones to becoming the only female executive at her company. She instilled confidence in me, and she encouraged me to follow my passion in everything I do. As I break a glass ceiling at Shaw and set a new path for women in our industry, I don’t take that responsibility lightly. I hope I can carry on the gift that was given to me and show other women that they can achieve anything they set their mind to.
FCNews: What challenges have you faced in the industry? And how have you overcome those challenges?
Manley: When I started with Shaw, there were no women in sales leadership roles—very few women in sales, period. I can remember thinking to myself, ‘Despite how much I love this company I am not sure there will be an opportunity for me to advance in my career here.’ I’ve seen an immense amount of change at Shaw and in the industry over the last 10 years. I’ve been inspired by many women both within Shaw and at the customer level. I’ve watched them shine in their roles and give new perspectives to an industry that sometimes can be set in its ways. The leadership at Shaw has continued to recognize the need for diverse thought, encouraging women to help lead change in Shaw and the industry. The path has not always been easy, but I’m a firm believer that breaking out of your comfort zone and being challenged is the best way to grow and get better.
FCNews: You have the most territory managers to be recognized for their performance. Why do you think that is?
Manley: While I would love to take credit for the amazing performances of so many TMs and RVPs from the Northwest in 2019, they were led by an incredible counterpart of mine, Greg Anderson. Greg’s leadership and the relationships he has built in the Northwest have set me up for success. This is a part of the country I’ve never worked in before, and I find myself back at the beginning of building relationships with all of the talented Shaw employees and the wonderful customers in the region. I have no doubt this team will continue to shine and be recognized year after year at the Circle of Distinction awards.
FCNews: Where do you hope to go from here?
Manley: Right now, I am focused on my current role and helping my team be successful every day. We are all faced with a challenging time right now. More than ever, the manufacturers and dealers will need to work together. I look forward to being the partner customers need as they go through this difficult time. We will both come out stronger on the other side. I’m also still working towards my original goal—running the No. 1 division in the country.
FCNews: What is your advice for other women looking to advance in the flooring industry or women in the industry in general?
Manley: Be who you are. With this industry still male dominated, it’s easy to fall into the pattern of trying to conform. This industry needs your perspective, intelligence and passion. Let that shine through in everything you do.