Interview by Derek Grosso
Born and raised in Columbus, Danielle Sullivan supports the recruiting processes at Scotts Miracle-Gro for Hawthorne Gardening Company – their subsidiary hydroponics business (which includes systems, nutrients and lights for use in growing plants at home). She also advises various employee resource groups, such as the Scotts Young Professionals, serving as their liaison internally and externally, and helping them with their initiatives and goals. And as Scotts prepares for its 150th anniversary in 2018, Danielle has taken an active role in their 150th year engagement committee helping to celebrate the company by sharing in beautification projects around the globe. A lifelong resident of the capital city, Danielle says this about her hometown: “Not only do we have a collective of different cultures here, Columbus has many ways of including all of us as a great community. To anyone who may disagree, I challenge you to explore what Columbus is about!”
Name: Danielle Sullivan
Company and Job Title: The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, Human Resources Coordinator
What’s the history of Scotts Miracle-Gro and why is it an important player within the Columbus Region?
ScottsMiracle-Gro is coming up on its 150th anniversary! The ScottsMiracle-Gro Company was founded in 1868 by O.M. Scott as a premium seed company for the U.S. agricultural industry. In the early 1900s, the company began a lawn grass seed business for homeowners, and grew from a leading lawn care business to an international marketer of industry-leading brands with a 1995 merger with Miracle-Gro. The history of the company, and the fact I would be working in a cool place that produces a household name, is one of the many reasons I chose to work here.
Can you provide us a snapshot of your career path?
I have been serving in Administrative roles for most of my career supporting executives. I learned a great deal working with Heather & Bea Sowald in the legal field. It gave me great insight to ethics and procedures. Eventually, I worked for the State Teachers Retirement System as one of the assistants to the pension board. I moved on as the Executive Assistant for the Regional Vice President for DeVry University. Then on to a great opportunity at ScottsMiracle-Gro as a Senior Administrative Assistant for Operations and then Marketing. I have been able to help start 3 employee resource groups at ScottsMiracle-Gro. This proved to be beneficial later as I moved over to Human Resources in my current role!
What gets you up in the morning? And what gets you through the workweek?
The love for my family and that I can help people in anything I do during the day. In the middle of the workweek, I get a spiritual reset at my weekly Bible Study. My faith as a Jehovah’s Witness helps me get through stress and brings me closer to my family.
What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way?
One mentor told me that when facing a difficult conversation, be sure to listen to them. Allow the other person to talk, because you tend to learn more about the situation this way. Also, a scripture in Philippians has helped me with servant leadership at times: “Do nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism, but with humility consider others superior to you.
Tell us about a Scotts initiative that you’re most passionate about?
We are preparing for a new year for our employee resource groups. I am working with the leaders of each group to help them prepare for their new year and setup their new steering committees. Working with me in Human Resources, these groups continue to provide programming that reflects the voice for our associates, opportunities to give back to our communities, and help associates grow as Enterprise Leaders. Also, I am a part of our 150th year engagement committee. In 2018, we will be celebrating the company by sharing in projects that help people make the earth beautiful!
Explain some of your work-life balance challenges and how you are able to achieve success?
The concept of work-life balance can be a challenging one. I believe in prioritizing. I constantly remind myself that my family and personal life are important; not to push them aside. In order to be successful in the workforce we often feel we need to be the best multi-tasker there is. I continue to learn to focus in on my key priorities at work and ask “Does it add value?” and “How does it benefit me/others?” This way, I can keep my priorities and balance in check.
What do you do or where do you go to unwind?
I love the Short North. My husband I like to support the local shops and eateries there. It’s always been a great area to explore and see what Columbus is up to. And if you know me, you know I’m a huge sports fan. Checking out our Buckeyes or Blue Jackets are my favorite local sporting events. But I am known to watch NFL RedZone with my Fantasy football picks on any given Sunday.
What’s the coolest thing about Columbus right now?
It is growing like crazy! There are people coming from everywhere to live in our city. The new developments and buildings going up are exciting. The variety of neighborhoods makes us unique. I’ve always said, ‘Columbus is the biggest small-town you’ll ever see.’
And what’s the coolest thing about your industry right now?
Sharing the message that gardening is for everyone. Our industry caters to all people. Getting fresh vegetables is not about waiting for grandma to hand you tomatoes from her garden anymore. You can grow and maintain your greenspace with organic products now also! Regardless of who you are or where you live, everyone can grow gardens or plants anywhere they would like; even on their kitchen counters if they choose. We make that happen for people and continue to find ways to make it easy and fun for consumers.
Which organizations are you involved with around the community?
Columbus Young Professionals of course! I’ve made great connections over the years as a member. Also, I am a part of the Black Employee Resource Council of Central Ohio. The Black ERC is professional networking council focused on connecting and engaging other black employee resource groups in the Central Ohio area.
If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
The diversity of people we have here. Take a look around. We have many different cultures represented in Columbus now! But not only do we have a collective of different cultures here, Columbus has many ways of including all of us as a great community. To anyone who may disagree, I challenge you to explore what Columbus is about! Columbus is a great place to be; there are awesome folks here that believe in one another.