Callan Dudley

General Manager, Southern Landscape Group

Callan Dudley is an active member of the National Association of Landscape Professionals Women in Landscape Network (powered by Bayer) which provides a forum for industry professionals to support each other’s professional growth. The Network is free to all industry professionals.
Photo courtesy of Callan Dudley

In January 2014, I was recruited from the private accounting sector to Southern Landscape Group as the accounting/HR coordinator, where my role developed from strictly accounting to building a human resources department. I had no knowledge of the HR world or landscaping and had to learn. I did not shy away from the challenge, but rather embraced it with lots of questions! I have learned that the only way you learn is to ask questions and that no question is a bad one. Whether it was questions about landscaping or checking in on my team members, I constantly asked. I quickly learned that leadership and people management were a passion of mine.

As I continued to build and refine our HR operations, my passion for Southern, our people, and my career grew. I knew that I wanted to build a culture of like-minded individuals with a passion for upholding our core values: passion, professionalism, quality and teamwork.

In January 2020, I was promoted to general manager. One of my greatest weaknesses (and largest challenge) going into this role was being a great delegator. I was so heavily involved with a lot of different areas of our business, as was everyone on our team. We ran super lean at the time, and I had a hard time giving more work to those that were already struggling. Right after I was promoted, I found out I was pregnant with our second child. At that point, I knew this was a skill I was going to have to work on, fast! There was going to be no way in the world that I could excel in my role, continue doing the tasks I was doing, and have a great home life. The only way I knew how to delegate was to find more of the right people to bring on our team that I trusted and get them trained.

I have spent the last several years building our leadership team and growing our talent pool. Being an empathetic leader is very important to me. No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care. I strongly believe that if we take care of our team, then our team will take care of our clients — in that order. This is not only showing appreciation through events and gifts, but genuinely caring and listening to their needs and questions, meeting with direct reports routinely, working alongside of our team members and giving everyone a sense of ownership in their role. Doing all these things helps to build the trust of those that work with you.

Getting to where I am today has not been easy. It has taken a lot of hard work, time physically and mentally spent away from family, and emotional ups and downs. I am lucky to have a great support system that values my passion for what I do. At Southern Landscape Group, we have and will continue to attract high-performing, quality talent to our team. While delegation has always been one of my weaknesses, attracting this talent and spending the time to train has allowed me to focus on my role and create a much better work/life balance.

Women in Landscaping is a column brought to you in partnership with the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

October 2022
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