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A Conversation with Ashley Kretzschmar About Learning from Life Lessons and Taking Advantage of Your Talents and Opportunities

Ashley Kretzschmar is a graduate of Oklahoma State University with a B.S. in Business Administration and graduate of the University of Phoenix with a Master’s in Business Administration.  She resides in Aledo, Texas.  Currently, Ashley is working as a clinical diagnostic specialist for Akcea on the cardiovascular team.  She is working in the area of […]

Ashley Kretzschmar
Ashley Kretzschmar

Ashley Kretzschmar is a graduate of Oklahoma State University with a B.S. in Business Administration and graduate of the University of Phoenix with a Master’s in Business Administration.  She resides in Aledo, Texas. 

Currently, Ashley is working as a clinical diagnostic specialist for Akcea on the cardiovascular team.  She is working in the area of rare disease, specifically hereditary transthyretin amyloidosis (HATTR).  In this role, she works with thought leaders, physicians, and the community to improve awareness on the particular disease state of HATTR and the options that are available for the treatment of patients. 

People with HATTR are born with a gene that basically causes the TTR protein to misfold and deposit amyloid proteins in multiple organs, and whichever organ the TTR deposits in will eventually be damaged.  This is a fatal disease, so the sooner that we can catch it and treat it, the more likely it is that the patient will have a better prognosis and a better chance at a normal life.  It is very difficult disease to identify because it appears different ways and is extremely rare.  But there are different pockets of it around the world. 

Previously, Ashley worked for Regeneron as a thought leader liaison.  She is a top sales and marketing key account representative with 14 years of pharmaceutical experience in biotechnologies. 17 significant wins in 12 years of sales including four President Clubs, four Platinum Performances Awards, top 10% in all six product launches, TLL of the Quarter Award, and Rising Star Award.

In her free time Ashley is involved in numerous different charities volunteering her time and money in order to improve the lives of others.  She is also an ex-athlete playing sports growing up, including hockey.  Ashley is also a big family person.  She is the mother of two and enjoys spending time with her children and husband when she is not working and volunteering.

In the last few years, what lifestyle, habit, or behavior change has had the biggest positive impact on your life?

I would say a big change for me has been the time I set aside every day for personal and professional development.  I try to start work a little early.  I work from home most of the time when I’m not in the field with physicians, and so my schedule is very flexible, but I have to get started on it very early so that I have that time slot from 4:00 to 5:00 pm to truly set aside that time for personal and professional development.  Whether it is spending some more time with a particular disease state material or a certain study, or maybe reading a leadership book, such as something on public speaking, I spend about an hour a day on that.  I started that about two years ago and it has definitely had a positive impact on me.

When you feel unfocused, what do you do?

I try and gain perspective by putting time in between when I head back to that task.  I feel like the way to get perspective is to get up and move on to something else and wait a day or so to try and figure out why I am unfocused.  But sometimes it just is the way it is.  Other times, there may be a particular reason, or I may gain clarity by just waiting a bit. 

What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?

Do your best at whatever you do.  It doesn’t matter what you do.  If you pick up trash, then make sure you’re the best trash-picker upper there is, and you do it to the best of your ability.  That is really important.  That is what I try and teach my kids.  It doesn’t matter how small you think the assignment is, you do your absolute best.  If you are not going to do your best, then you shouldn’t do it.  Be yourself in all situations.  I think that is very important. 

Regarding what advice to ignore, I would say to make your own judgments about situations and people.  There is never a reason to judge or put somebody else’s perspective on a situation when you can form your own opinions and values. 

I would recommend involvement in the pharmaceutical industry if they like a high degree of change and are self-motivated.  I think this kind of work is a wonderful thing to do.

What is one lifestyle trend that excites you?

Right now, getting involved in the community and meeting our neighbors has been a really good trend.  Of course, meet them at a distance.  During COVID, this has been a wonderful opportunity because we have not been able to do some of the typical things that we do.  It has been really nice.  I live in Texas.  In Texas, I think we’re a little less concerned about COVID.  I think we understand it is a blood vessel disease.  It is not even a cardiovascular disease.  It is a respiratory problem.  We understand what transmits it and how it has been over reported.  We are just not having the type of problems that some of the rest of the country has been having.  People here feel free to socialize at a distance.  They still take precautions, and we are not getting sick.  It’s been good to get to know our neighbors a little bit better and spend more time outside.  It has been really fun. 

Who has been the biggest influence in your life and why?

My grandfather has had the biggest influence in my life.  He was one of nine children and grew up very, very poor, so poor that him and his younger sister had to be sent to the orphanage because the family could not afford to feed them.  He grew up to be a very good man.  He was in the South Carolina Coaches Hall of Fame for football.  He is also an athletic director.  He showed me that life is what you make it and you can choose to be a positive influence and work hard.  He worked three jobs and he still had a great attitude and still had something to give to others. 

 What’s one of the biggest life lessons you’ve learned?

I always learn the most when things seem the most challenging.  I think that is where you get a lot of personal growth.  When I was in sales, I would attribute a lot of learning to a time when I didn’t win a sales contest, or in marketing, when I didn’t meet the mark with what the market needs.  I have learned that failure isn’t failing.  It’s learning.  Whenever you can learn from a failure, it isn’t failure.  I really don’t believe in failure.  I believe in learning. 

Even now in the marketing work that I do, in every meeting that we have there is an objective.  We either did or didn’t get here.  Sometimes we request that the physician be a little bit more aggressive in their treatment to help patients and sometimes we ask them to stand up in front of their peers and tell them what they really think, not just what they tell us.  Sometimes we get there with our objectives and sometimes we don’t.  It’s not about what our objective is.  It is about what is best for that patient and what is best for that practice.  I think we fail we’re trying to come up with the ideas and we don’t let them express their concerns and help them to solve their problems.  When we don’t come up with solutions, that is when we fail. 

What do you think it is that makes you/someone successful?

Success oftentimes is about how we treat people.  I think that you have to really think about other people’s needs and be present in conversations.  Being thoughtful, strategic, empathetic, sympathetic, having curiosity, being innovative, all of those things revolve around taking care of people.

How do you stay motivated?

I’m motivated by intrinsic values like achievement, success, doing my very best, and being number one.  But it’s not for a trophy, recognition, or financial gain.  It’s just a drive that I have.  I don’t really know any other way to be.  It is all or none type of effort.  If you choose to do something, you do it all the way, or you don’t do it. 

What legacy do you hope to leave behind?

When I think about a legacy, I think about my kids.  I want to raise two thoughtful children to be adults with big hearts that are compassionate and look out for others before themselves. 

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