Women in Business: Ashley Pifer

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 89 views 

Ashley Pifer

Class of 2024 Women in Business Ashley Pifer Water Technology Team Manager Garver; Fayetteville

Residence: Fayetteville

Education: B.S., civil engineering, Ph.D., civil engineering, University of Arkansas

Professional background: After completing her doctoral work at the University of Arkansas, Pifer joined engineering firm Garver in 2012. She has since provided her knowledge to drinking water projects across the southern United States and now leads Garver’s team of drinking water and wastewater professionals as water technology team manager. She was named to her existing role in April. Additionally, she is active in the American Water Works Association, chairing one of the national organization’s technical committees and leading revisions to a manual of practice.

What is the best leadership advice you have ever received? Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you because there’s always something new to learn. This is helpful for confidently delegating tasks, and different perspectives are invaluable for generating new ideas and innovative solutions.

What do you think of the opportunities that exist for women in business compared with when you started? It’s been exciting to see the number of women in engineering — particularly the number of women in leadership roles — grow over the course of my career. There are, of course, still challenges, but as more women are entering the field, the opportunities for career growth are becoming more readily available.

What is the most fulfilling part of your work? Solving problems. As a water engineer, each day brings a new puzzle, and it’s a privilege to partner with my clients to tackle complex infrastructure and water quality challenges. Knowing that the end result will supply our communities with safe, clean water is continuously rewarding.

What are some of the leadership skills that helped you move up in your organization? Over the course of my career, I’ve made sure to hone my organizational and communication skills. It’s easy to cast a vision, but building a strategy and then communicating that strategy in a way that will help stakeholders — whether company leaders or direct reports — to buy into it is essential in executing and realizing the vision.

How should women support other women in their organizations? It’s vital that women support other women both within their own organization and outside of it. It starts with intentionally getting to know your coworkers and seeking to understand their career goals and aspirations. From there, we can advocate for each other, whether that’s mentioning a colleague’s name for an upcoming opportunity she’s well-suited for or leaning on each other’s networks and resources. I think it’s just as important to support women within your professional organizations, as well, even if they aren’t a part of your company. It takes all of us to work together to build a more inclusive industry.

Why do you think companies would benefit from having more women at the top? Organizations can benefit immensely from having a leadership team of both women and men that can offer a wide variety of perspectives. Seeing a problem or a challenge from all angles allows for new, creative ideas, and a dedicated team of leaders who are open to hearing and implementing different and fresh ideas encourages innovation and overall company growth and success.

What is something distinctive that people would be surprised to know about you? During the pandemic, I used my extra time to learn to make pickles. It has since become a summer tradition with my family.

What’s the most recent book you’ve read? I’ve been listening to podcasts more than reading lately and have been enjoying and learning a lot from Harvard Business Review’s “Women at Work.”

What do you do to relax when not working? I like taking walks — whether hiking or exploring a new or familiar city, especially when there’s a good coffee shop to stop at along the way.