Career Spotlight: Get to Know Ashley

a special projects & initiatives manager working for General Sheet Metal

The industry offers a vast range of roles, from the field or shop, to the office – there are numerous opportunities for advancement.

Ashley Duncan

Sheet Metal & HVAC Industry Career Reviews: Get to know Ashley, a special projects & initiatives manager for General Sheet Metal

Hometown: Gresham, Oregon

Education: BS in Business Management and Administration from Oregon State University

Years in the industry: 28, although I didn’t get my first paycheck until 16 years ago. 

My main responsibilities are: Managing Special Projects and initiatives within the company that aim to improve business performance, safety, quality, employee engagement and satisfaction.  

# of promotions since I started: Four? I started my early years in the office, organizing files and paperwork. Eventually I transferred into the shop to seal ductwork during summer breaks. After a few years, I went back into an office role, working with data analytics and creating various reporting systems. When I graduated college, I came back to work as a project engineer on the mechanical side, worked my way up to a project manager, and then transferred to where I am today.

My job is: Everchanging! From revising forms and templates, to streamlining processes and implementing new technology.

My first ever job was: Desk Drawer Organizer – unless my career as an artist attempting to sell my paintings to my grandparents at an early age counts?

My favorite subject in high school was: Math. 

To be good at my job you need to: Be patient, open to new ideas, and not be afraid to fail. The key is learning from those failures along the way.

My favorite part of my job is: The team and overall culture. We have an awesome, forward thinking, collaborative team. Coming to a place that not just feels like family, but is filled with people who aren’t afraid to have tough conversations and challenge you to be better, is a rewarding feeling. 

My least favorite part is: Meetings. Being involved in a number of projects, my day seems to fill up with various meetings, determining which ones are essential and which can be limited to a quick huddle becomes critical in order to be productive.

How I got my start in the industry: I always say I grew up in construction, surrounded by people in both the sheet metal and roofing industry. Early on I had a sense it was ultimately the direction I was going to pursue. Before I knew it, I was working within the sheet metal business and after falling in love with the people and culture at my company, I never wanted to leave.  

My advice to someone considering coming into this industry is: Go for it! The industry offers a vast range of roles from working with your hands in the field or shop, to working within the office space – there are numerous opportunities for growth and advancement. 

My favorite project was: Multnomah County Health Department Headquarters. It was in no way an easy project, but it was one where the lessons learned have been instrumental in my path going forward. 

Proudest work accomplishment: Restructured our Job Costing Reporting System that once took multiple hours to compile data and complete, to a report that now takes seconds to run for each project.