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Q&A with New Chamber Chairman Leigh Shockey

Memphis Crossroads Magazine Preview
- Incoming Chamber Chairman of the Board Leigh Shockey spent a few minutes answering our questions about the path of Memphis business, the current leadership strides at the Chamber, and unique aspects she believes she'll bring to her new role.

What do you bring to this leadership role on the Chamber’s Executive Board of Directors?

I’m very excited about this opportunity – I’ve been involved with the Chamber since 1999 and I’m committed to the Chamber and to Memphis. 

I guess if I had to name one strength and focus I’ll bring to this position, it would be International trade. I’ve chaired the Tennessee District Export Council (DEC) for 20 years and we are preparing to split DEC into two districts for Tennessee and this will allow us to focus more on Memphis. We have seasoned exporters in Memphis and with our strong manufacturing and transportation capabilities and the unique export opportunities in West Tennessee, this will be a great DEC.

How will you add value and get things done in your new role?

I’m very energized by the leadership transformation the Chamber is going through – the new ideas and fresh enthusiasm by private sector leaders. I’m already a member of the Chairman’s Circle – and this is such an influential group that’s putting both money and brainpower into helping steer the community down the right path. 

We have so many great leaders, so many visionaries. The Chairman’s Circle is tackling some tough initiatives – we’re calling them ‘moon missions’ – and I’m just blown away by the possibility of seeing our city’s dreams come to fruition.  There’s so much real dedication and greatness here.

As Chairman and CEO of Drexel Chemical, you’re obviously used to being in a leadership role – can you describe your personal leadership style?

Are you familiar with ‘ladder-web’ (style of management)? As a woman, I think we have stronger networking skills and what I call a ‘web of inclusiveness’ I have a great group of people here (at Drexel) and it’s the same at the Chamber. I’ll encourage them but the Chamber team knows what needs to be done and how to do it.

With the expert Chamber staff in place and running things on a day-to-day basis and the Chairman’s Circle looking forward to carve a path to where we need to be, it’s a perfect blend for success.

As a native Memphian, do you think our city is on the right path?

I love Memphis. I truly believe Memphis is on the verge of something really grand! The potential is here in Memphis and I see us getting better and better – we have the opportunity to be one of the best cities in the country. There is such a cohesiveness and a desire to move forward.

The most beautiful thing about Memphis is its heart and how much the people of Memphis do care – it is such a giving community. It’s one of our greatest treasures.

With such an excellent Chamber team in place and with the newly formed Chairman’s Circle looking forward to carve a path to where we need to be, it’s a perfect blend for success.”

You also own a music company – how does that fit in?

Music has always been a part of my life.  Gospel and Bluegrass music were a part of my childhood, and I loved the harmony that both those genres bring out. Still today, when our family gets together, there is lots of gospel singing. So, when Andy (Childs) and I became friends, it was just a natural fit.... I saw the need for an independent song writing company due to consolidation in the industry, and he had both the talent and discipline to make a go of it.

So, you are chairman and CEO of Drexel Chemical, a partner in Veritable Music, you live on a working cattle ranch and now you’ve taken on this leadership role in the Chamber – how do you keep sane?

To find balance, I think I just try to stay flexible knowing that my plans could change in an instant depending on what in my life at the time is most pressing. I try not to get fixated on what still needs to be done and remind myself that tomorrow is another day.

The farm is a total blessing in that it allows me a change of pace on the weekend and a lot of interaction with the animals which I find quite soothing.

Read more about incoming Chairman of the Board Leigh Shockey and all of the Chamber's economic initiatives in the upcoming issue of Memphis Crossroads Magazine, available soon.

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