Natalie Conway – RVing is fun on wheels, so enjoy the ride.
Natalie Conway, executive director for the Ontario RV Dealers Association is inspired by adventure and opportunity. So, is it any wonder that her career brought her to the RV industry and the kind of people who curate adventure for everyone?
Sometimes for Conway, that adventure is enjoying her favorite movie “Dirty Dancing” and spending some quiet time with a book. The Reese Witherspoon Book Club is guilty a pleasure, along with country music; she credits her daughter to exposing her to the country music culture!
A lifelong travel enthusiast, Conway and her husband are about to embark on the trip of a lifetime to visit Italy. The trip was planned for her 40th birthday in 2020, but when COVID hit, the trip got put on the shelf – much like many things or many people. But now that it’s getting closer, the couple is ready to roll. “I’ve been planning it for six months, so I’m really excited to go,” Conway said.
Conway said her career began in financial services but veered into the RV industry on a surprise note. Over the past decade, she has enjoyed being able to grow her knowledge through grassroots learning, engaging with industry mentors and getting involved in important organizations such as the Canadian Society of Association Executives or CSAE.
Not-for-profit work always held a certain interest for her, so when the opportunity with ORVDA came along, she decided to take a chance. “It’s a really fun and interesting industry in general,” she said. “It’s been a excellent fit for me and I’ve had a lot of great opportunities over the past decade. My career and the relationships I’ve enjoyed have enriched my life. I feel very grateful and fortunate to enjoy working in such a unique culture.
“It’s a wonderful group of people in the industry, members, partners and association counter-parts included.” she said. “People that I’ve connected with along the way that are exposed to the RV industry for the first time have typically shared my sentiments, the culture is very unique and inspiring.”
So, as one can imagine, being apart from members during the pandemic took quite a bit of steam out of her enjoyment. “The impact of COVID-19 and prolonged shutdowns of the exhibition sector created significant challenges for the organization and it’s members.”
But now that trade shows are resuming as well as other gatherings, she said she is excited to get back out and doing things within the industry.
“There’s a lot of opportunity for growth and opportunities that we haven’t even tapped into yet,” she said. “I’m really excited for what’s to come over the next 5 to 10 years.”
As for women looking to establish themselves in the workforce, she suggests they reach out to any of the associations involved in the industry to research what type of role they are looking for.
She said there are plenty of resources available to give potential employees ideas of jobs they might be interested in. She also encourages women to find others within the industry they can learn from one who might be able to mentor them. Conway credits Eleonore Hamm of the RVDA of Canada for being a leader and a sounding board during her career.
“Just really being able to harness the insights from these fantastic women is really important for me,” she said. “I have a very strong desire for knowledge, learning from industry mentors (such as Eleonore Hamm, my board of directors and association counterparts) has boosted my confidence and strengthened my professional competencies.
My ethos always been women are so much stronger together. A positive attitude and outlook is essential for success. I would strongly recommend getting involved with a committee or an organization that aligns with your personal and professional goals. RVWA is an excellent resource and advocate for women in the industry, I intend to get more involved with the organization moving forward!