August '20

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rv-pro.com August 2020 • RV PRO • 19 Profiles of Remarkable Women Sarah Neely Senior Manager, Communication and Marketing RV INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION The "long and winding road" that brought Sarah Neely to her position as senior manager of communication and marketing for the RV Industry Association passed through engineering, archi- tecture, occupational safety and health and international finance by way of Prague, Czech Republic, and many American states. Along the way, she developed the diverse skills that allowed her to be so useful to RVIA. When she joined the association in 2017, it was in the process of "transforming and had a clear vision of how it wanted to be positioned." She says she was excited about "the prospect of being part of something that could have a real impact." In 2019, Neely moved to RVIA's Go RVing team to lead the "complete revamp" of its website, (which is set to launch in the fall), the development of a new data and analytics strategy and a fresh ad campaign. While she learned a lot from the industries she was involved in prior to joining RVIA, Neely singled out Go RVing's Vice President of Brand Marketing Karen Redfern, Director of Strategic Marketing and Public Rela- tions Courtney Bias, and RVIA's Monika Geraci of the Government Affairs Department as particularly generous with their knowledge and experience. And while Neely says she is "not sure she has been in this industry long enough to be a 'traditional' mentor", she says she has enjoyed being a mentor in other industries. "Nurturing strengths and seeing others gain confi- dence, develop long-term goals and build their careers is extremely satisfying," she says. "It strengthens the com- pany, builds trust among employees and is a variable that results in a higher performance with greater impact." The idea that "when women work together to lift up and support other women, we all succeed" underpins the time she spends volunteering for the RV Women's Alliance. The organization has "so many amazing women who have each impacted the industry in big ways" and benefits from "experienced leaders like (President) Susan Carpenter and (Executive Director) Sandy Ellingson who have done a great job providing networking opportunities, leadership edu- cation and recognition of female leaders in the industry." Neely says she encourages any women in the industry to participate in the group. Once someone has started in the industry, Neely's advice is: "Do not be shy. Ask questions and reach out to people. The people in this industry are so friendly and willing to help. If you have a question or want to learn more about something, almost anyone will attempt to help you if you simply ask." Neely says the speed at which the world moves drives her to "constantly adapt and imagine how new technology can apply to (her) work and help (her) accomplish new goals, (because) it is likely that by the time you figure it out, it will change again." That adaptability is central to the way Neely measures her own success at the end of each year. "If I can't look back and see that I learned to do something new, improved on something that was in place or completed a large project better than the time before," she says, "then I know that I am stagnating and that I need to start pushing myself to take on bigger challenges."

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