Artistic Entrepreneur Turned Alliance Expert
This article is part of our Women in Partnerships series, highlighting female professionals in the partnerships space. To learn more about the series and the Women in Partnerships group, check out the series intro.
Ashley Hildreth is the Vice President of Business Development and Partnerships at Clyde. Today, Ashley joins us to discuss her experience starting her own business before moving to sales, then finally landing in partnerships, what it’s like being a woman across industries, and advice for others in alliances.
Supporting the Makers’ Movement in Brooklyn
Before Ashley Hildreth dove into the world of technology, she started a workspace and studio for artists in Brooklyn. “We had a startup vibe with a gym model. Artists could use the space, take classes, showcase art in the gallery, and even utilize print-making services. It was kind of a special time in Brooklyn as part of the makers' movement. There were print shops, wood shops, even an oddities museum, all in this area called Gowanus that was up and coming. A lot of the studios and makers in the area were starting to work more closely together to offer shared classes, discounts, and co-marketing. So my first experience in partnerships was through collaborating with other relevant businesses as an entrepreneur.”
Building Partner Programs at Trustpilot & Clyde
Ashley ultimately left her print shop and took a role at Mindbody. Ashley explained that it was a fast-paced high-velocity role, which provided for an interesting transition. “I learned a lot about moving much quicker. After Mindbody, I wound up taking a role as part of the sales team at Trustpilot. I found success early on by specializing in the home furnishings vertical and developed relationships within the industry that eventually grew into a referral engine of new business. It was a natural next step to pivot into a role solely focused on partnerships, where I then focused my efforts toward building a partnership program for agencies.”
At Trustpilot, Ashley was an army of one for a while. “We then added a number of new roles to the team, including Partner Marketing, Partner Managers, Partner Development Reps, and my role eventually expanded to include Tech Partnerships. Often, partnerships are a little bit sales, a little bit marketing, and a little bit product. In many ways, the partnership org operates almost like a business within a business, and I feel like it’s beneficial to have been an entrepreneur before. I've had experiences in each of those areas and my role today is about tying all that expertise together.”
At Clyde, Ashley is working with a small team as they build the partner program from the ground up. She sought out Clyde for the greenfield opportunity they presented. While Trustpilot had a bit of infrastructure, including a few partners, Ashley gets to build the program from scratch at Clyde.
Enabling Team Success
Ashley achieved a lot early on in her career. One of her first big wins was launching and running a successful business while very young. Throughout her time in sales and partnerships, she’s also been able to win many large deals she’s proud of. However, Ashley shared that the most emotional point of her career happened after she started to build out her team.
Ashley explained, “My proudest moment so far was watching an individual on our team develop from the time at which they took their very first call with a partner into a consistent top performer that not only met their own goals but also became a cornerstone of the team that invested themselves into helping new team members through onboarding and skill development. I remember the first time they hit their goal, I was so excited I was practically screaming at our pod as we celebrated. I was so impressed by how quickly they got it!"
Excelling as a Woman in Partnerships
Sales tends to be a male-heavy industry. For Ashley, an obstacle she’s worked through in her career is getting comfortable with leading as a woman. “Tech has long been an old boys club, and to stand out as a woman in tech you not only need the experience, but also the confidence. For me, the experience requirement forced me to truly be a sponge, learning as much as I could by listening to as many people as I could. Once I had that base of knowledge I could move confidently in that world and lead.”
Ashley gets to work with many women in her role today. “We have a lot of strong women at Clyde. Of the twenty roles that are Director level and above, nine identify as female. Clyde has open and honest conversations about the role that diversity plays within our company. It’s not viewed as a box to check, it’s a commitment to growing the team from a diverse talent pool.”
On the impact of being a woman in partnerships, Ashley shared, “I pivoted later in my career than most, so when I made the switch into tech I was not only more senior than most of my peers, I was also one of very few women in my department. In many ways, this fueled my competitive nature and drove me to push myself harder to be successful in my career. But aside from the drive, it also created a strong bond between many of the women I have had the opportunity to work with, many who I would regard as great friends today.”
Ashley had some powerful advice to share with other women looking to excel in partnerships. “Speak up and advocate for yourself. No one's going to do it for you — you're your biggest champion. So find ways to make sure your voice is heard, whether that's in a meeting or advocating for your career path, do whatever you can to build your brand and get your voice heard. Don’t forget to lift up and advocate for others while you’re at it.”
“I've heard of people building up brag sheets, and I started doing this myself: draft up a list of your most proud accomplishments and own that! It's inspiring to see all of that on paper (and it’ll be great for your resume one day).”
Growing with Women in Partnerships
Ashley highlighted the value of groups like Women in Partnerships, “It's great and really important! There's a camaraderie that happens because so many of us have shared experiences. It's a great way to communicate with one another on things we run into that other groups may not run into. I very much appreciate being able to have that extra encouragement or reminder to take a power stance before the meeting.”