For ten years, Ashley Hicks was at the helm of Black Girls RUN!, a national organization she co-founded to help diversify the running community. She's since brought her entrepreneurial skills to the corporate world in roles at KIND and REI.
This fall, Ashley will serve as a judge for The Greater Good Challenge, a business pitch competition hosted by the Career Design Lab and made possible with support from the Beba Foundation and Turkish Philanthropy Funds.
We caught up with Ashley to learn more about how she leveraged her entrepreneurship skills into "intrapreneurship" and ask her advice for Greater Good Challenge contestants:
As the Co-Founder of Black Girls RUN!, what advice do you have for SPS students and alumni who are also mission-driven, and want to turn their ideas into a functioning reality?
One of the best pieces of advice I can give is to be really clear about your mission. As an entrepreneur, it's easy to chase one shiny idea after another. Having clarity helps ground all of your business decisions and keeps you focused on your goals. Asking yourself “how does this help our mission” is a great lens to filter new ideas and focus your strategy for growth.
You have launched a business and also have worked at KIND and REI. What do you see as the main differences between successful entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs? How do you stay innovative working within an organization?
That's a great question! I think there are a couple of differences between entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. For one, being an entrepreneur takes a tremendous amount of risk. Whether you are raising capital, taking on debt or just bootstrapping your business, there is a certain amount of financial risk. As an entrepreneur, I also found myself working much longer hours than my corporate jobs, and there is a tremendous amount of emotion and stress that goes into starting a business.
While working at KIND and REI, I love the idea of being an intrapreneur. I’m able to test new ideas and operate like a business owner in many ways. I also bring a tremendous focus on results and ROI because I constantly focused on those things in my business. But at the same time, I also love having PTO and work-life balance.
What are you hoping to see out of the Greater Good Challenge contest submissions?
I’m really looking forward to seeing the incredible ideas that students are working on. It’s like looking into the future of the next wave of big ideas and solutions for our world. I also find the entire process of starting and running a business so energizing. I’m looking forward to seeing that same passion in the contestants.
Learn more about the Greater Good Challenge, including important dates and details on how to enter.