2021 Women in Print and Promo: Ashley McCune, Facilisgroup
Facilisgroup, St. Louis
Being promoted to president of Facilisgroup was a special moment for Ashley McCune. After working in marketing and sales management for distributor GatewayCDI, she joined Canada-based Facilisgroup when it became a U.S. company.
“I loved the promo industry, but was very much intrigued by the opportunity to be a part of a new company [that] brought technology to play in the industry I knew,” she said. “Taking my love for promotional products and using that passion to help distributors grow their business through innovation was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
It was a smaller operation back then, and everyone filled multiple roles. McCune handled the majority of operations and marketing, which she credits for sparking her personal growth. Over the years, she oversaw major technology integrations and was instrumental to the company’s evolution. By the time she assumed her current role, Facilisgroup had 72 employees between its St. Louis and Ottawa offices. She had a vision for the future and was excited to build on it with her team. It was happening. Then, roughly one month in, COVID-19 hit.
McCune wasn’t going to let a global pandemic get in her way. As many business segments suffered across the globe, she adapted and thrived. “The number of Facilisgroup employees has more than doubled over the last year, as Ashley has led the organization to improved and expanded technology, nurtured a strengthening of our community of distributors and suppliers, and kept her team motivated, inspired and feeling like we can take on any challenge,” her nominator shared. And so can she.
What Brings Her Joy Professionally and Personally
My joy comes from knowing we are truly making a difference for the many SME companies we provide services to. Facilisgroup’s tools and pillars have helped provide significant growth to the many partners (aka clients) we have. Knowing that our work helps create jobs and opportunities for so many in our industry is very rewarding to me, and is very much the purpose behind what I do.
In my life, joy comes from my three amazing children. My 13-year-old daughter Katelyn, who is growing into a strong and confident young woman. My 12-year-old son Carter, who is so sweet-hearted and will forever be my guy, and my 5-year-old daughter Kylie, who brings sunshine—and sometimes thunder—but is truly my rainbow. These three incredible kids, along with my husband, who has always supported me and my dreams, are truly my “why”!
Her Proudest Career Achievement
I’m most proud of playing even a small role in the development of some talented individuals here at Facilisgroup. We’ve been fortunate to see some blossom into key leadership roles in the company, and we’ve had several people leave old career paths and forge new ways here at Facilisgroup. Anytime we can play a part in that sort of growth and advancement within our team, it’s truly very rewarding.
On Working in a Traditionally Male-Dominated Industry
That description [good ol’ boys club] is something that I have unfortunately experienced in all phases in my career. There have been challenges along the way: I was the young girl who was asked to get drinks. Then I became “another blonde, hired by Facilisgroup,” and from there I was “the pregnant lady who should have a nanny.” And now I’m probably considered “the old lady!” But I’ve spent the majority of my career living two lives—not bringing the personal to work while focusing on personal growth—and at times, striving for gender neutrality.
That said, I know I am here through years of hard work, but also due to some amazing mentorship from a couple of gentlemen who may fit into this “good ol’ boys club” idea. Early in my promo days, these two “good ol’ boys” valued me greatly and helped me on my path to success. And I’ve remained fortunate in that respect, as my current boss believes strongly in female leadership and, more importantly, placing the right people in the right roles. At Facilisgroup, I feel we are making strides to promote female leadership and squash that “good ol’ boys club” mentality.
Her Job Advice to Women
Go for it! This is an amazing industry desperate for passionate, successful, creative, relationship-focused individuals. And while I believe in the talents and skills of all people, I believe that no one can truly handle pressure and multitasking like women can. Some of my closest friends are female leaders in this industry, and I feel they are taking over. This industry has been in need of youth and passionate people to turn it on its head and break some ceilings. I would love to mentor or support any women who are interested in taking this journey.
Who Inspires Her
My mom. She showed me from a young age that having a career and being a great mom can both happen.
How She Motivates Team Members
From my experience, motivating others begins with a foundation of support. We support our team. We care about their families. We show trust in them and give the space they need in order to be amazing. When individuals truly understand their mission, and you make them feel supported, appreciated and needed, they will move mountains for you.
What She Learned About Herself in 2020
I learned that I don’t have to have all the answers. Surrounding myself with people who are great at the things that I’m not as great at is a win-win. Also, I’ve learned that sometimes I just need to cut myself some slack and understand that everyone has good days and bad, and I’m no exception in that regard.
Her Upcoming Goals
Professionally, of course we’d always love the organization to perform well. But this year my goals are really dedicated to people and culture: The growth of our leadership team and their abilities to motivate and elevate their individual teams. Auditing our culture to look for opportunities for improvement as it relates to the overall satisfaction of our people, and just a rededication to ourselves to stay aligned on our core values as an organization: community, trust, innovation, quality and inspire.
Personally, I want to lose 20 pounds, but that’s every year. This year, I want to build a truly unique memory with each of my children.
What She Wants People to Know About Her
I would not be who I am today without the upbringing I received. My parents had multiple real struggles, but fought through them together and with God. They didn’t give up when it got hard, and didn’t allow us to either. The foundation that my parents built for me has undeniably influenced who I am today.
How She Recharges
I love boating. Escaping to the lake and getting out on the open water is so amazing!
The Best Book She’s Recently Read
Nothing recently has topped John O’Leary’s “On Fire.” Wow, talking about living for your “why” and having a purpose-filled life. “What more can I do?” and “why me?” are questions that have been forever turned on their heads since reading his book.
I am beyond proud to be the president at Facilisgroup and I work each and every day to make our company better. While I truly believe the best person for the job should ultimately get it, I do find it unacceptable that there are so few women in leadership positions within our industry. I do feel there are glass ceilings, but I also believe we need to inspire women to take more risks and fight to break through. I believe, quite often, that we as women become a barrier to each other rather than coming together as a group to support one another, and I am committed to doing my part to help get us there. At Facilisgroup, we’ve recently launched the emPOWER Her initiative, where women in leadership within our partnerships come together for monthly emPOWER Hour sessions—guest speakers, panels and small group discussions where we discuss our challenges, goals and try to really live our desire to support each other. These conversations carry over into a special Facebook group for these incredible women, so we can easily stay in touch in between sessions. It’s been an incredibly inspiring initiative so far, and we look really forward to building on these ideas each month.
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.