Less than 4 years in the past, excessive ranks within the hashish {industry} have been among the many most female-friendly on the planet, with women occupying 36 p.c of C-Suite stage positions – as per Marijuana Business Daily numbers for 2015. However, as time glided by and the {industry} continued its upward trajectory, many women started to stumble upon the so-called “grass ceiling.”

By 2018, women have been solely occupying 27 p.c of C-Suite stage positions within the marijuana {industry}. Cassandra Farrington, CEO of Marijuana Business Daily, stays considered one of them.

After discussing the subject extensively, I managed to break down what I feel are the primary elements driving this development. Namely: deeply rooted social conceptions, the continued migration of male executives from men-dominated industries into hashish, and the clear development of funding favoring male-founded companies.

However, just a few women have persevered, proving their resilience and reaching C-Suite spots at publicly traded hashish firms. With the current itemizing of women-led hashish tech firm Akerna (previously MJFreeway) on the Nasdaq, this appeared like a very good time to get to know among the prime women in hashish, and study in regards to the challenges they confronted to get to the place they’re right this moment.

The Way To The Top

Jessica Billingsley is the CEO of Akerna, and thus, the primary feminine to function CEO of a Nasdaq-traded hashish firm.

Ten years in the past, Billingsley invested within the first Colorado hashish licensee and, given her tech background, she was rapidly asked to recommendation them on software program points. She seen there was “nothing suitable for the cannabis industry that would provide a business with the ability to track their product from seed to sale, down to the gram level.”

“My co-founder [at MJFreeway] and I believed that tracking across the entire supply chain would be necessary to support the growth of the industry. We invented seed to sale tracking to drive product, public and patient safety.”

MJ Freeway quickly grew from an concept to 100-plus workers, providing providers in 14 totally different nations. “I suppose the old joke applies: after ten years of hard work and dedication, people will talk about what an overnight success you are.”

Sara Gullickson is the CEO of Item 9 Labs, which is OTC-listed within the U.S., with a valuation near $200 million. She beforehand served because the CEO and founding father of hashish consulting firm Dispensary Permits, an organization she started at age 27, with solely $3.00.

Specializing in hashish licensing, her consulting firm secured a number of wins in state markets throughout the nation. Four years in the past, Gullickson determined to increase her licensing choices by creating a extra inclusive useful resource platform. She created sister firm DispensaryTemplates.com, a website with an in depth on-line library of downloadable hashish enterprise plans accessible for buy.

“Leveraging my different skillsets and diversifying my business services has allowed me to get where I am today. I grew my company into the top 3 percent of women-owned businesses and secured ownership of multiple properties before making the decision to sell. My company was acquired by publicly traded Item 9 Labs Corp where I now serve as CEO,” she defined throughout a current, unique dialog.

Beth Stavola serves as Chief Strategy Officer and Director at iAnthus Capital Holdings, a hashish firm that’s listed in Canada and the U.S., elevating most of its cash up north and deploying into U.S. hashish companies. With a market cap of greater than $600 million, it stands among the many prime marijuana firms on the planet.

After engaged on Wall Street for a few years, specializing in institutional fairness gross sales, Stavola made a private funding in a medical marijuana firm in Arizona. When the deal went south, she took over the enterprise to avoid wasting her funding.

She rapidly went full time into the medical marijuana {industry} and commenced rolling up licenses in Arizona.

As she witness the “many medicinal benefits cannabis brought to patients,” Stavola turned passionate in regards to the plant. It was on this setting that she launched two vertically built-in medical marijuana operations in Arizona. In order to satisfy the regulatory deadlines, she invested extra capital to assist get the her Health for Life model and its licenses up and working underneath a 4-month window.

She later partnered with MPX Bioceuticals and have become the COO. MPX was then acquired by iAnthus in a multi-million greenback transaction, and Stavola was named CSO of the father or mother firm. “I truly believe that the people make the business, and my job is to create that culture in our business and the wider industry at large,” she mentioned.

A Rocky Road

Getting to the highest is rarely simple. But making it as a lady is even more durable. We may quote all kinds of statistics to again this declare however the actuality is: it’s so evident, so broadly recognized and accepted, that we don’t have to.

Gullickson additionally brings up industry-specific challenges: “Attaining a C-suite position as a woman is a challenge in any industry. Early on, the cannabis space was talked about as being female-centered where women were leading companies at a higher than usual percentage when compared to other sectors. However, this number has been declining since 2015.”

She assures the {industry} remains to be male dominated, and the most important problem lies in bridging this management inequality hole. “More and more male executives are entering the cannabis space from mainstream industries, funding still favors male-founded businesses, and there are still social conceptions that men make better CEOs. Every day I work hard to prove that I deserve to be exactly where I am today,” she voices.

For Stavola, the most important problem was concern: concern of creating errors within the early days.

“Part of success is dealing with the failures that lead to success.”

Beth Stavola

“You need to be committed to your goals and believe in yourself and your vision,” she advises. “But part of success is dealing with the failures that lead to success. Everyone eventually gets knocked down. It’s how you recover from a setback that’s important. Learn from your mistakes and move on.”

Staying Atop

It’s not simply attending to the highest that’s laborious. Remaining atop can also be an enormous problem.

In Stavola’s view, “it’s about guiding the ship through rough waters and making positive changes along the way.”

Stavola all the time tries to deal with the issues she has the facility to vary, and never fear about issues she will be able to’t management. She says she’s continually setting increased targets and requirements, and all the time striving to be higher. “Re-evaluating where your company is and planning the next 2, 3, 5 years becomes very important. It’s a process and it takes patience and a belief in yourself,” she explains.

See Also: Is The Cannabis Industry As Women-Friendly As It Claims To Be? New Report Says ‘Meh’

For Billinsgley, the highest remains to be far. This is “just the beginning,” she assures. “I consider this to a wonderful acknowledgement of a milestone, but it’s just the beginning. There is much more for us to do… Being on Nasdaq means we have a much larger platform now to pursue our strategy and vision… Staying focused on where the industry is headed – not where it is now.”

However, remaining a pacesetter means doing the suitable factor and being a part of the answer – no matter the issue is. “Doing the right thing means operating with integrity. Being part of the solution means innovating and remaining focused on the solutions we need to solve tomorrow’s emerging challenges and opportunities.”

How To Make It To The C-Suite As A Woman

Finally, I asked these girls to share some recommendation for different women aspiring to the identical type of place, one within the C-suite at an enormous firm, hashish or not.

Billingsley holds this matter near her coronary heart. She usually brings up stats from the tech world, the place there are much less women right this moment than 25 years in the past. Furthermore, she mentions, 56 p.c of women who enter the tech subject drop out within the first ten years. And it’s a good bleaker state of affairs as you get increased up, with females making up solely 20 p.c of executives in tech.

“We can all be extra useful than we expect, and everybody can decide to one act to assist one girl’s profession,” she says, citing her firm’s One Woman Challenge. “It could be a coffee, an introduction, a mentoring position to help one woman when and where you can. Additionally, women getting into the industry should be bold and reach out and ask for help. There are people willing to help, you just need to ask.”

Gullickson provides one must be reasonable: there is no such thing as a quick observe to the C-suite.

People have to work laborious and put time in, acquire the experience.

“Slow and steady wins the race,” she says. “I stuck to my own game plan and made sure to not get caught in the ‘green rush’ mentality. I have also been committed to this industry from the beginning. There have been multiple times where I have thought about giving up, but I believe the reason I didn’t get out earlier is my determination. I felt I had a higher calling to be involved in this industry for others, not just myself. When you see how people are benefiting from the plant, it feels selfish to stop what you are doing.”

“Slow and steady wins the race.”

Sara Gullickson

Stavola adheres to this view as properly: perseverance is the important thing.

“Check your ego at the door and do whatever it takes to see your vision through to the end, despite the setbacks,” she recommends. “Surround yourself with great people and ensure your employees are happy and the company culture matches your long-term goals. I am more interested in the effectiveness and integrity of the individual.”

Other Notable Women In The C-Suite

While the women on this article are working among the largest publicly traded hashish firms on the planet, there are different marijuana, hemp and CBD firms that additionally rely on the feminine contact. These girls are:

  • Darby Cox – CEO of Smoke Cartel
  • Melinda Rombouts – CEO of EVE & Co
  • Alison Gordon – Co-CEO of 48North
  • Rosy Mondi – CEO of Quadron
  • Jeanette VanderMarel – Co-CEO of 48North
  • Penny Green – CEO of The Yield Growth Corp

See Also: Putting Their Money Where Their Mouths Are: Meet Six Ladies Behind This Women-Only Cannabis Fund


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