Leadership isn’t foreign to Andrew Neal.
The vice president of operations at Scanco, a software company in Nokomis, south Sarasota County, has been a leader since he worked his way up to general manager at Chick-fil-A during his time in college (though not before he became one of brand’s beloved cows, in a costume, that encourages people to eat more chicken).
Neal graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University in 2013. Windward, a pool furniture manufacturing company in Sarasota, hired him to develop and implement a new software system. About four years later, he extended his work with software development with a career at Scanco, where he started in sales. He's since worked his way up.
I didn’t happen overnight at Scanco. It took grit and hard work — traits he learned from his mentor and mother, Donna Evans.
While in direct sales, Neal learned he was good at making sales, but admits he wasn’t great. Instead, he found he had talents in other areas of the business, like teaching.
“It took me about two years to convince our company,” he says. “I don’t want to do direct sales. What I want to do is teach other people how to sell our product. I’m one person. But if I teach 10 people about our product, that’s 10 people that can then go out and sell our product for us.”
It took quite a bit of work on the weekend and data to sell the point. He recalls presenting a full outline of the project to a company partner and one day finally hearing the words, ‘we’re doing it.’
Ultimately, the two years he spent convincing the company’s leaders paid off, with a promotion to director of partners and alliances. “It was in that success that led me to vice president of operations,” he says.
The kind of leader Neal is embodies a couple of different experiences. One was meeting the late Truett Cathy, Chick-fil-A founder, and discovering the billionaire had an open-door policy.
“It doesn’t matter how big you get in the corporate world,” Neal says, “you always make time for your team.”