Passion To Profession: Women in the Active-Outdoor Industries | Sharon Houghton

Passion To Profession: Women in the Active-Outdoor Industries | Sharon Houghton

Sharon Houghton, Managing Director of Outdoor Group and Group Publisher of Active Interest Media Outdoor, discusses her memories and perspectives of the outdoors and its force in her life and others.

Outdoor skills are truly life skills—and we’re not talking about placing climbing gear or carving deep powder—we’re talking about getting back up when you fall or pushing past limiting thoughts and overcoming fear as you set off for a summit in the dark of night.

Perseverance. Confidence. Risk-taking. These are just a few lessons from the outdoors, and these no doubt, are the skills shared by talented and skilled leaders profiled over the past few months as part of Camber Outdoors Passion to Profession series in Backpacker, Climbing, Skiing, and Yoga Journal magazines. Driven by a love for the outdoors and a desire to integrate their career with this passion, the women profiled each made the leap into the active-outdoor industries and shared their stories to inspire others to do the same.

The Passion to Profession series is produced by another accomplished leader: Sharon Houghton, Managing Director of Outdoor Group and Group Publisher of Active Interest Media (AIM-Outdoor), one of Camber Outdoors’ Peak Partner companies.

Sharon was also recently recognized as a 2018 Top Women in Media by Folio: magazine: “Sharon is a strong leader who leads with integrity,” said Camber Outdoors’ executive director Deanne Buck. “She sees two to three steps ahead and brings people with her. Camber Outdoors and the outdoor industry are fortunate to have her in our ranks.”

At AIM, Sharon has advanced from Sales Manager to Sales Director to Group Publisher and now Managing Director in just eight years. She oversees outdoor industry brands, editorial, and consumer products, including Backpacker, Climbing, SNEWS, and The OR Daily. She attributes this ascent to her love of hard work and challenge. A mom to two young children, Sharon is known as a ferocious champion of her staff, a forward-thinking, compassionate leader, and a change-maker.

We sat down with Sharon to learn more and discuss her journey and professional trajectory in the active-outdoor industries.


What was your most defining outdoor moment

Going camping with my family in the Great Smokey Mountains when I was a kid. It’s my first outdoor memory, and I actually haven’t been back since. I need to make it happen.

How has the outdoors influenced you?

It makes me a better human. When I spend time outdoors, I’m less stressed, and I’m a better wife, a better mom, and a better employee. I solve a lot of problems when I’m outside, as it’s meditative, and I often come back to the life situation with more clarity to make the best decisions.

What is one piece of advice would you give your 25-year-old self?

Never buy a smartphone. Love them or hate them, they have changed the way our world operates. Our society is too plugged-in, and the mini-computers we all carry around are the conduit to it all. I truly believe the world would be a happier and healthier place if we gave them up.

How have your outdoor skills influenced your business perspective?

Media is a very challenging landscape, especially today. Media is not dying. Print is not dying. It’s evolving. Each day we must find new solutions, new tools, and new products to move our business forward. Being challenged to innovate is exactly what keeps me excited about the future. It’s like endurance sports. As a swimmer, runner, and triathlete, I know that sticking with it yields great rewards. Each goal reached engenders a new euphoria, followed shortly thereafter by a new, more challenging goal.


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Formerly the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition (OIWC)

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