Faces of the Industry: Sharon Chao - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

We recently updated our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use this website, you acknowledge that our revised Privacy Policy applies.

Faces of the Industry: Sharon Chao

When Sharon Chao was recruited out of college by Gachina Landscape Management, based in Menlo Park, California, the company only had 60 employees.

The company was growing with one accountant and Chao was brought on to help with payroll. Since then she moved up to accounting manager, controller and is now director of finance. Previously, she had five years of experience in the banking industry.

“Coming to the landscape management space, interacting with the customers, vendors, and working with field employees brings different experiences and perspectives,” she says. “I worked in the cash vault processing department at the bank, and it did not require interacting with customers. Personally, it is more satisfying to know a particular customer is happy due to my effort.”

Chao says she didn’t know anything about the landscape industry when she started. This was initially a challenge as she didn’t know how the business worked.

Over the past 27 years, she has learned many things about the industry thanks to the Gachina family and continues to learn. Aside from John and Jaclyn Gachina, she says Frank Ross and Quang Trinh have also been mentors to her. One thing Chao says she wishes she could learn is Spanish so she could communicate more effectively with their Spanish-speaking employees.

In her current role as director of finance, she is responsible for overseeing the company’s finances.

“In addition to giving guidance to my team, I collaborate with the leaders of various departments,” she says. “I review the company budget and analyze financial data to take proactive action/decisions.”

Having spent her professional career with Gachina, Chao says being with the company is a good showcase of the “Gachina family” they have.

“Our culture highlights and promotes teamwork, diversity, and continuous improvement (Kaizen),” she says. “The best part of working for Gachina is being part of the big “Gachina Family.”

As for where she sees herself in the next five years, Chao hopes her 14 years of experience as director of finance will give her the opportunity to become CFO and eventually retire from Gachina when the time is right.

She says her favorite parts about working in the industry as a whole are seeing the changes in the use of technology, the importance of preserving natural resources and being environmentally mindful. One thing she’d like to change in the industry is to increase the focus on continuous education on protect the environment and natural resources.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.