Name: Jody Strickland
Title: Executive Vice President
Company: F&W Forestry Services, Inc.
Alma Mater: University of Georgia, Bachelor and University of Florida, Master of Engineering
1. What made you decide your career path?
My passion has always been in the fields of agriculture and natural resources. My degree is in Agricultural Engineering and my first job was with Proctor and Gamble, as an engineer in a pulp mill in Oglethorpe, GA. P&G was a great company that worked with their employees to find their passion. I really wanted to be out in the field more, so P&G and then Weyerhaeuser, allowed me to focus my career on the forestry side of the business. I have worked on all sides of forestry operations and management and am currently enjoying helping client landowners from all over the world meet their objectives for their land ownership. It has been a very rewarding career!
When I started out, I would have never dreamed my career path would have led me to where I am today. I encourage all young professionals to have an open-mind and to take opportunities to learn and experience new things.
Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. - Mark Twain
2. What is the biggest challenge you think women natural resource professionals face?
I have seen a lot of young women give up early in their career because it was too much work to try to ‘fit-in’ or policies and procedures in their workplace did not meet the needs of young families. Even after all these years, forestry and natural resources is still a male dominated profession. Naturally, there are a lot of cliques among professional men that work together. Most don’t realize that this often makes the few females feel ostracized. Having a sponsor and a mentor would help any young professional, but it is especially helpful for women. A sponsor can be a successful man or woman that will help her breakthrough the barriers that exist. A mentor is someone the person can trust and confide in to advise them along the way. Many times, companies feel they have been successful in recruiting a diverse workforce if the numbers are there. But, look closer to see if the company has promoted women into leadership positions. Or, are the women getting stagnant or leaving in the early stages of their career? Companies benefit greatly by having many different personality types on their teams, especially if they serve a diverse client base. So, there needs to be work systems in place that motivate a diverse workforce.
As women, we must be willing to step up and take the responsibility of leadership. We must be willing to take the initiative to make things happen.
Don’t wait on others to do it for you and don’t give up too easily.
And, once we get in a leadership position, we need to lend a hand to others who are coming along behind us.
3. What is the biggest challenge you think women landowners face?
I work with several women landowners and I don’t think there are specific challenges for women per se. The biggest challenge is that often, women don’t have the self-confidence or courage to own and manage land themselves. Any landowner needs to learn everything they can about being a landowner and use the resources that are available to them. A smart, self-confident woman can manage and enjoy being a landowner, as much as anyone. There are plenty of professionals available to help them when needed. They just need to find a reputable professional that they can trust and depend on to have their best interest in mind. This is true for anyone.
4. What would you say to encourage other women to pursue a career in natural resources?
There are a lot of fun and exciting career opportunities available in natural resources. If you have a passion for working with natural resources, or you like working with people who are honest and hardworking, like those in forestry, agriculture, and other natural resource disciplines, then I would encourage you to follow your passion. Whether you enjoy being outdoors, or working on new technology or computers, the choices are endless. And, let’s face it, we need more women in natural resource professions in order to better serve a more diverse client base.
5. What is your biggest attribute that has allowed you to be successful in your field?
The ability to surround myself with very smart people! I have worked with some great people who helped me learn and grow along the way. I realized early in my career that having a strong network of professionals is important. Whether you are trying to make a difference in your job, looking for a new challenging career, solving an impossible problem, promoting an important legislative initiative or just need a safety net for support, the stronger your network of co-workers, business professionals, leaders and friends, the better. It is important to get out there and meet people. I have also been told I am a little tenacious, which helps me a great deal when the going gets tough. It takes tenacity to stick to your goals and see things through!
And remember, be willing to help others as much as they help you!
6. What is your favorite quote?
“There is no limit to what a person can do or where they can go if they don’t mind who gets the credit.” - Ronald Reagan
This quote was on a plaque that Ronald Reagan kept on his Presidential desk. (Although I have taken the liberty to make it gender neutral!) We often spend too much time worrying about who gets the credit for our good ideas and works. Even the best ideas usually get implemented by a team. You will go farther if you focus on the goal instead of wasting energy on who gets the credit.
“Women are like a teabag – only in hot water do you realize how strong she is.” - Nancy Reagan
And, I had to add this famous line from the movie Gone With The Wind,
“Land is the only thing in the world worth workin’ for, worth fightin’ for, worth dyin’ for, because it’s the only thing that lasts.”
7. What is your favorite memory, from your career, to date?
The memories I have are of the people I have worked with and the places I have had the privilege to work. I find that no matter where you are in the world, the people in natural resources and agriculture are the ‘salt-of-the-earth’ kind of people. It is what drew me to the profession in the first place. The loggers I meet talk about the same things no matter if they are in Texas, New York, Scotland or France. They just say it with a different accent! Most of them are hardworking, honest people that love what they do.
Many of my closest friends are people I have had the opportunity to work with through my career. From CEOs, political leaders, landowners and loggers to Lords and Ladies, I get great joy in working with a diverse group of people around the world. I have too many great memories to choose just one. I keep a lot of pictures to help me remember the people and places that mean the most to me!