Wilson thrives in her role at Friendship Enterprises


Editor’s Note: On October 14, we will hold a reception to 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.

When Alana Wilson was preparing to make her way into the world, she knew her two younger siblings were watching her and taking note.

Wilson was especially conscious of the impact her choices had on her younger sister.

“I wanted to make sure there was a good example going forward for her to just know what she could be capable of,” Wilson said.

What Wilson’s sister witnessed was a confident young woman who wasn’t afraid to leave her comfort zone and blaze a bright trail through the world. Upon graduation from the University of Tennessee, Wilson returned to Bristol and took a job at Friendship Enterprises despite having no experience in the automotive business.

Dustin Walters gave her a chance to get her foot in the door, and she hit the ground running. Later, Brandon Walters tabbed Wilson to become the company’s first human resources director, and Wilson made the most of the edict to forge her own path as she saw fit.

“They really gave me the latitude to do what I needed to do and learn the things I’ve needed to learn,” she said. “Of course, Mitch (Walters) is definitely the backbone behind those two.”

Wilson counts all three Walters as mentors, and appreciates the freedom she has been given to thrive in her role. Likewise, Wilson strives to create a framework that allows everyone in the company to enjoy their work in a first-class environment.

“It’s about having a process so your people enjoy what they’re doing and are coming to work every single day happy to be doing what they’re doing,” she said.

Wilson said she is motivated to make a good living, but she is also committed to ensuring that those who follow in her footsteps have the same opportunity. She is chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Society at the University of Tennessee and also serves as an Alumni Mentor. She also serves on other boards in Knoxville that work to provide opportunities for women and young professionals, and she is a founding member of the Pink Ladies, a volunteer charitable organization at Friendship Enterprises.

In the future, Wilson hopes to start her own non-profit to help underprivileged kids get the opportunity to enjoy time in the outdoors. With her sister currently in engineering school at LSU, it’s safe to say Wilson has provided a great example for the next generation.

Next week we will profile Jeremy Wright of Blackburn, Childers & Steagall, CPAs.

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