Women In Green

How A Firefighter Sparked A New Career In Cannabis

Trish Hansen used to fight fires and save lives as a paramedic and firefighter. Now she saves lives as VP
How A Firefighter Sparked A New Career In Cannabis
Image credit: Zbynek Pospisil | Getty Images
Guest Writer
Founder and CEO
4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Meet Trish Hansen, the VP of Sparx Cannabis. Born and raised in Carmel Valley, California, where she was the state’s youngest Certified Firefighter at the age of 16.

After becoming a paramedic and retiring from firefighting to be more available to raise her three young boys, she moved into the cannabis industry with a local company where she held various responsibilities such as scheduling, human resources, payroll, accounts payable and accounts receivable while overseeing day-to-day operations.

Trish Hansen
Image credit: Sparx Cannabis

Trish applied her aptitude for hard work and never-fail attitude to learning all aspects of the cannabis business. She brings an expansive connection to a variety of services and people within the cannabis and the local community. 

What is your origin story?

I moved into the cannabis industry to work with a local company as the personal assistant for one of the owners and work in the greenhouse transplanting. I loved getting my hands dirty, working and learning alongside some of the most genuine people. It wasn’t long before I was moved into the office and took on responsibilities such as scheduling, human resources, payroll, accounts payable and accounts receivable while overseeing day-to-day operations. Now, I work for Sparx Cannabis, a California-grown, vertically-integrated and family-owned lifestyle brand.

Related: 4 Leadership Lessons From A Female Extraction Expert

What obstacles and challenges have you experienced in operating within this industry and how have you overcome these obstacles?

I think by far, the biggest obstacle is the ever-changing laws and rules. As a cannabis company, we all need to be on top of the regulations and ensure our team members are up to date as well. This is an industry that is continuing to evolve and you have to be incredibly flexible and incredibly prepared for whatever might be thrown at you. Each day is different and each day brings its new challenges, but if you can see the vision for the industry and the company, I think you’re destined to succeed. 

As a woman in cannabis, do you feel that you are at an advantage or a disadvantage (or both) and why?

 Both, but I’m not a b***h and have balls big enough to run with the best and the biggest. Once people realize that I am not here to micro-manage, or sit back and watch people work, that’s when I gain respect. The employees know I will get down and dirty with all of them.  

At that point, my orientation no longer matters. I am no better than anyone that makes a day successful.  From a fire department background, I have never expected or asked for a handout. I pride myself in getting to where I am at because I worked just as hard or harder as any other man or woman that would strive to be in my position.  I am fiercely loyal to the people that trusted me and put me in this position.  

Related: How This Wall Street Vet Became a Billion-Dollar Cannabis Success Story

What is an accomplishment you have achieved in this industry that you are most proud of? 

Being named Vice President of Sparx Cannabis. I pinch myself daily and constantly. Also, if one person reads this and accepts a change that could alter their lives forever, that is an accomplishment in itself. 

What was your greatest lesson learned? 

As a paramedic, you quickly learn there are lives at stake. I had to realize that someone could die if I didn’t precisely do my job.  There are days that the level of stress this job brings is far beyond a day on the ambulance, but I remind myself no one is dying, find a solution, bring that solution to execution and move on… no one is dying - in fact, what we are doing is helping people. 

What trait do you rely on most when making business decisions and why is this useful for you?  Networking, negotiating, saying thank you and a good eight hours of sleep.  

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