Ashley Brehmer, Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce
IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Ashley Brehmer, membership support specialist, Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce.
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1. What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?
Working for the Chamber has been crucial to my personal and professional development. The opportunity to support the Chamber, which has nearly 1,300 different member businesses, is a unique and rewarding challenge on a daily basis. Initially, I experienced a challenging learning curve just given the amount of information that goes into collaborating with so many different members. However, the effort to get to know our current members has played an instrumental part in my role as membership support specialist. I connect with members of our community and provide a personalized experience every time they attend an event, use our services, or reach out directly. By far, the most rewarding aspect of this job is the team I get to be a part of. Our group is dynamic and passionate about the work we do. Our recent relocation to a new office with an open floor plan has really helped boost communication, creativity, and synergy. It is as productive an environment as it is fun!
2. Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?
I deeply admire my best friend, Shayla Crawford, who successfully runs and operates a thriving boutique as a single mother. She approaches each new challenge with an unbreakable spirit and passion for what she does. Her attitude and entrepreneurial spirit is contagious. But as far as a more prominent business figure, Tory Burch, CEO and designer of Tory Burch LLC, has been an inspiration to me for quite some time. Of course, her classy and eclectic designs caught my eye at first, but it is her involvement in philanthropic initiatives that sold me on her character. In 2009 she created the Tory Burch Foundation, which supports the economic empowerment of women through small business loans, mentoring, and entrepreneurial education. Additionally, Tory serves on the board for multiple cancer research societies. Because of the woman she is, I have taken a more active approach to volunteering and giving back to the community. Most recently, I started volunteering with Miss Amazing Inc., a pageant system that empowers young women with disabilities.
3. What has been the high point of your career so far?
I am fairly fresh into my career, considering I just graduated from Illinois State University in 2015. Since I have only had sales positions since graduating, I was excited to check out our large leads as soon as I got settled into my role at the Chamber back in October. One particular lead caught my eye and I was able to provide some great information that may have not known otherwise. Because of this I was able to secure a meeting with this particular company, which had been on the radar since 2007.
4. Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
What you study in college does not necessarily dictate what you will do for the rest of your life. At 21 years old, I was gearing up to graduate from Illinois State with honors in my major. I studied geography with a focus in geographic information systems, and I was concerned about the amount of opportunities available to me in the professional world. Upon graduation, I was fortunate enough to land an internship with the Florida Division of Emergency Management. I mainly created maps that helped first responders and civilians understand areas in danger during storms. While I enjoyed and cared about the important work I did, I felt like I needed to utilize my interpersonal skills a bit more. I ended up leaving the GIS world and broke into my first sales role in Chicago. Since then, I have explored sales roles within a few different industries, something I never thought I would be able to do with a geography degree.