Editor’s Note: This October, we will celebrate our 30th class of 40 Under Forty honorees. Each week in 2022, The Business Journal of Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia will highlight one of our 2021 40 Under Forty honorees leading up to the announcement of our milestone class this fall.
As Ashley Grindstaff was working her way through college as a retail employee, she quickly learned an important lesson that has guided her through her career.
“One thing I learned very quickly is you don’t do anything without the people around you lifting you up,” said Grindstaff, the general manager of the Mall at Johnson City. “What motivates me is seeing the people around me do well. As others around you are succeeding, you also succeed. That’s really the biggest joy I’ve had in my career is observing others and helping others get where they want to be.”
Simply put, Grindstaff invests in others because she had important mentors who invested in her. Grindstaff started as a part-time sales associate in college, and that experience led to a 13-year career with JCPenny that culminated with her leading two different stores in our region while overseeing 150 employees.
Grindstaff said that was all made possible by a regional manager who took the time to take her on store tours while encouraging her to think beyond the role she was in.
“Some of the best advice I was ever given was, as you move up and become a leader, you’re everybody’s leader,” Grindstaff said. “You really need to think from everybody’s perspective as you make decisions.”
Grindstaff’s positive impact goes well beyond the Mall at Johnson City. She strives to be a positive role model for her three children and also works tirelessly to make a positive impact on her community. Grindstaff serves as the director of membership for the Rotary Club of Johnson City’s noon club and the chair of the small business development council for the Johnson City Chamber.
Additionally, she tries to make the world a better place for everyone’s children by serving on countless boards, including Coalition for Kids. In the future, she hopes to keep growing and helping others around her do the same.
“I want to feel like I’m learning something and I’m being stretched,” she said. “If you get to a place where you’re not being stretched and you’re comfortable, that’s kind of a signal sometimes that you need to make a move and find somewhere else where you can stretch and grow.”
Next week we will profile Chelsea Hayes of Baker Donelson. If you would like to nominate someone for inclusion in the 2022 class of 40 Under Forty, visit 40under.com and follow the instructions.