Redlands Alumna Dr. Theresa Ashby Provides Insight on Business and Leadership

Throughout Dr. Theresa Ashby’s educational and workplace career, she has courageously built and sought human connection within business organizations. She originally pursued business because she felt it was the cornerstone of the economy. Through her vast educational experience, Ashby came to understand the importance of a holistic business model.  She obtained an MBA from the University of Redlands, has a PhD in organizational psychology, an MS in psychology, and an undergraduate degree in public administration. Ashby takes a gregarious approach to communications and looks to better the lives of people in business. She stated, “if you really think about it, business doesn’t exist; what exists is a group of people who want to have value and be a part of an outcome and those people create a system that is this box of business.”

Like many Redlands students, Ashby came to the University with a unique skillset and background.

“I was one of those unusual students, I have degrees, I already had my PhD in organizational psychology, which talks a lot about business. But I really wanted to go back and get my MBA,” Ashby stated.

She pursued her degree at at the University of Redlands South Coast Metro regional campus. Ashby wanted to have this degree to be a thorough business candidate and to prove that she truly understands business, even though she already had experience. Redlands was appealing to her because of the well reviewed travel opportunities, and because she wanted to pursue the connections between education and international business. During her time pursuing her degree, she felt that the Redlands educational system exemplified the importance of relationships.

“The other important piece that is usually leveraged is the relationships between the students, professors; it’s the relationship with even the campus directors. It’s a holistic system and we have to leverage that to the best of our abilities,” Ashby said.

The program she enrolled in at South Coast Metro emphasized the dialogue of business in different organizations. Ashby passionately recalled that she was able to analyze what people are doing from their position within a certain industry. She enjoyed that she would learn about a vast amount of industries, and discover that aspects of each could be implemented to all. During her time, she found the intersectionality of business. Ashby appreciated the time she had at Redlands so much that she taught at the South Coast Metro campus as an adjunct professor.

After graduating, an opportunity to enter the healthcare field appeared, and Ashby leaped. She recalled that at that point in time, the business healthcare field was about to see some major change and become an integral part to society, and she was ready to be a part of that change. Within her position she was able to apply her prior knowledge as well as learn new things. During this time of variety, Ashby had many careers. She began in learning and organizational development, and quickly worked her way up to managing three medical centers. Within this field she had diverse support.

“The bottom line is healthcare is a big part of humanistic ability to take care of people. We have to balance how we take care of people with efficiencies, patient care, and the business part. I liked managing that part. Patient care is number one. Regulatory and managing is the business part…The bottom [line] is you do have to have a heart,” she explained.

Ashby found that balancing business with urgent human needs forced her to make difficult decisions. If regulatory components did not always add up in the way she wanted them to, she would have to work within the confines of the building and restrictions. She explained that if they wanted to upgrade or change patient flow, there would be restrictions on everything. Ashby stated that “the only thing that matters is that we take care of the patient most efficiently.” There is a balance between patient care and driving operations. Underlying all of this, Ashby said the key to effective operations was “the conversations we had to have, and sometimes those took time, but if you have that dialogue it’s better for every patient that comes through the doors.”

She has found that collective knowledge and communication is essential for successful business functions.

Through her skill, Ashby rose to become the vice-president of a high-power organization in the healthcare field. However, this achievement wasn’t the pinnacle of her goals. She gathered the courage to leave her comfort zone and pursue her lifelong dream. Ashby began a consulting firm, Dyam Consulting, to help people in business become their best selves. She explained how she was able to leave and take a huge risk.

“It came down to wanting to go out and it is important for our leaders to be extraordinary leaders to lead their legacy,” Ashby said. “I wanted to help more executives lead people where they want to go, value engaged. I knew if I did this work, I could do this for more people and have a greater impact. It was a thoughtful choice, I had a great social system of support.”

Ashby faced many challenges along the way while entering the consulting industry. She had to create credibility within the corporate world. Ashby had to understand what about herself made her unique, and different from every other consultant. From here, she could brand herself and her company. After she accomplished these aspects, she had to acquire a client base. In doing so, Ashby emphasized the importance of forming relationships and building trust between herself and her clients.

Within her consulting career, she has found connecting with people to be incredibly rewarding. She hears the stories of people and loves to hear their reciprocal engagement. Within the business model there needs to be compassion to build a space to tell these stories. She feels the most successful trait in teams is trust. If a relationship built on trust is formed, real and positive change can begin.

“I think baseline people need to be compassionate, but I can’t let the compassion get in the way of my candid conversation because we have to do it to help them do things differently,” she said. “You have to push the envelope.”

Ashby’s goal through these conversations is to help her clients understand how to make their organization better. For instance, in successful development with a client, they will say, “if I do this, change x, and change operational system or bring this person on, I see how we can make a difference. I see how we can exponentially grow a business.”

In the future, Ashby wants people to be truly excited to go to their job and connect in business.

“[We need] more magnificent leaders driving strategy and engaging people and creating organizations that are exciting that people want to work for. Wouldn’t it be magnificent to talk to people who all think their organization is the best? I want people to actually want to be at work and feel valued. The future to hold support for organizations. If we create business where people are excited we are going to drive people in and provide more jobs, and provide more economic stability.”