Alison Black is the Division Vice President of Operations for Central and North Florida at Extra Space Storage. Black has been working with the self storage organization since August 2018 and feels honored to be part of both the company’s support and overall success.
We recently sat down with Black for a Q&A to discover more about her operations work at Extra Space Storage and the most successful moments of her career.
Q: How did your career path lead you to Extra Space Storage?
A: Since my first role out of college at United Parcel Service (UPS), I have been an operational leader. I transitioned to a career at Public Storage, where I held roles as a District Manager, Senior District Manager, and then Regional Vice President before leaving the company in 2016. Having come from the storage industry, Extra Space Storage is regarded as the elite self storage company among the “top four” that everyone aspires to work for. You can imagine how excited I was to have a mutual friend connect me with our current Senior Vice President of Operations, Kenny Speegle! We developed a relationship over time, and eventually, I started working for Extra Space Storage as a District Manager. Under his leadership, I’ve had continued growth and opportunity, eventually leading to the role I hold today as Division Vice President of Operations for Central and North Florida. I am honored and excited about being a part of supporting our future success and growth through a foundation of culture and values that emulate my personal outlook.
Q: What is the best advice you’ve received in your career?
A: A mentor once told me “You cannot run and fix everything.” Your true success is measured by how you have prepared your team to run the business without you. Empowerment and delegation build the trust in a team to support your vision when you are not there. And he ended by saying, “Teams will not truly follow until they know you care!” So show your team you care through your actions and support the company by building the future leaders to support a foundation of continued and stable growth.
Q: Which experience(s) in your career influenced who you are today?
A: During my time at a previous company, I was initially passed over for a promotion to a Regional Vice President role. I was very frustrated and disappointed with the outcome, but trusted that my supervisor and the leaders of the company had good reasons for holding me back. After I was eventually promoted, I found out in later conversations that the CEO discussed my responsibilities at the current time as a mom and how the demanding travel of that role might be too much for my family. While disappointing at the time, in reflection, it was absolutely the right thing to do and the best outcome. Had I not trusted my leaders’ decisions and not kept a positive attitude, things could have turned out very differently.
Q: What has been the most challenging aspect of your career?
A: The most challenging aspect of my career was how to juggle being a full-time mother and having a full-time career. Before marriage and children, you can work, travel, and navigate your schedule without constraints or worry. When I first married, I was excited about having a family, but I knew I was committing to a relationship where my husband would lack flexibility in his work schedule. I understood that I would shoulder full-time parental responsibilities to have children Monday through Friday, and I was still more excited than ever to move forward. As we folded three children into the mix, we learned how to compromise with the priorities of kids and marriage. My husband was then, and is still today, incredibly supportive of my career, as well as being an incredible partner and father!
Q: What has been the most fulfilling aspect of your career?
A: Professionally, it’s so rewarding to mentor and support others to reach personal goals of growth and development with my influence. I also selfishly enjoy learning from others that I have been exposed to during my career. Personally, I love being a role model for my children by allowing them to see that diversity is embraced for all to grow within Corporate America. The path has not been easy or without sacrifice, but nothing truly exceptional in your life is ever easy!
Q: Describe your most successful endeavor with Extra Space Storage.
A: During my time here at Extra Space Storage, I take great pride that I have contributed to our success by championing a message that our team’s development is a top priority! Our division has promoted two District Team Leads to District Manager in training roles and a District Manager to a Facility Services Manager role. My team is consistently building their bench to be prepared for the future growth of our company.
Q: What advice would you give to future Extra Space Storage leaders?
A: Embrace the need for self-awareness and the evolution of change as you grow and mature as a leader. Emulate what you learn not only in your professional plight, but also apply it to your personal one. Early in my career, I found myself trying harder to make changes at work with my peers than I did with those I cared about the most—those in my personal world. When you prioritize needed change and then apply it to those you love first, it makes a real impact on who you become. This allows for an easy continuance in the workplace and helps mold you into a better person and leader for your team.
This article is part of an ongoing series of interviews with Extra Space Storage (NYSE: EXR) team members. Alison Black is the Division Vice President of Operations for Central and North Florida at Extra Space Storage.