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Ash Wilson on Development, Growth and Gymshark Values

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Gymshark's Head of Campaign and Creative discusses how he got here, how it’s going, and the core values in his life that keep him on track.

Ash Wilson on Development, Growth and Gymshark Values
To say that Ash Wilson takes pride in his work would be an understatement. The Gymshark Head of Campaign and Creative has made a habit of putting his very best into projects since his early school days. Known as the kid in art class who went as far as painting his workbooks in his spare time, Wilson has never done things by halves.

It is this work-ethic and zest for creativity that carried Ash through his days at the University of Exeter. After completing an undergraduate course in Sports Science, Ash went on to do a Masters in International Business Management and fell in love with the Branding module. "The use of theory from the course, combined with knowing the community I had become part of, meant that the work felt like effortless fun and not work at all."

His deep drive to understand people and communities has underpinned Ash’s career so far. After being headhunted out of university for his first role at a nutrition brand, Ash used his time there to explore and understand all functions of the business and its people. "I worked on anything and everything there, from compliance to social media channels, blog, app creation, sponsorship, partnerships, brand marketing, campaigns and new product development."

After 4 years in his first role, Ash made the move to Gymshark as Head of Creative. But it was not without leaving something behind. "Over the 4 years at my first company, the team scaled substantially, from 8 people in one team to 77 people across 12 disciplines with a clear purpose to create content that inspires. To see that growth, to be a key person in helping build that, working with stakeholders around the business and continually pivoting, is just so much fun. It was huge pressure but a privilege."

Upon joining Gymshark, one of the key moments for Ash was the opening of the Lifting Club (LC), which is the official Gymshark gym with office and studio spaces above. ‘The opening of the LC was huge for me, both professionally and personally. It unlocked so much potential for relationships, collaboration, and content opportunities.’ With his knack for working with people across multiple departments, it wasn’t long before Ash was dubbed the ‘CEO of the LC.’ "People joked that I oversaw that part of the business, whilst Steve (Hewitt) was CEO of Gymshark. Although it was just a bit of fun, it really helped me realise that if I could apply myself to HQ as I did in the LC, I could rapidly improve myself in the role."

And Ash took this insight seriously. An advocate for the Gymshark community both externally and internally, he works hard to bring teams and people together. "I try to be the role model, which means I am available to anyone in the business. From conversations about projects to recognising people's achievements, to championing the teams in the department, it’s my duty to be there for everyone." This insight, combined with his people skills, helped Ash to run the whole Creative Studio (a department that’s spans from Creative through to production). By bringing in specialists to focus on individual elements such as design, Ash strives to make each team within the department even greater when they come together.

Empowering and growing others through coaching is another role that Ash takes pride in. "I try to inspire without interfering. I want to develop the leaders I manage by encouraging them to find solutions without jumping in and doing it myself.’ And how does he do this? ‘I’m always sure to set a clear direction; working on strategy, structure, operating plans for the department, sharing this with leadership teams and aligning the everything to the wider business goals."

Ash is successful in bringing teams of people together not only professionally, but socially, too. Last November, he set himself the challenge of running for 24 hours to raise money for Movember, a cause close to his heart. Covering 90 miles, Ash raised thousands for the men’s mental health charity. But it wasn’t without the help of all those who know and support him. Joined by over 170 runners, teams of people across all different departments came to run over the course of 24 hours to help raise money together.

For someone who bears the responsibility of so many people and teams, organisation skills are crucial. And Ash is a planner. "I have plans written out for every aspect of my life, from short term goals, to financial, to career planning. I keep a yearly planner too for key milestones, fitness competitions, work, and family moments." To maximise productivity within the day, exercise and training plays a huge role. ‘I’m religious with my routine. I’m up at 5:30, and in the gym just after 6.’ A fan of CrossFit training, exercise bears similarities to Ash’s work life; in working out to improve himself every day, he is stronger and more prepared for the working day ahead.

But the most important part of his day? "The beginning. Just after I’ve woken up, I write in my gratitude journal before leaving for the gym. If I start the day with the right mindset, getting up at the right time, ready for the day, I’m set to take on whatever is thrown at me because I’ve already articulated perspective."

Being able to pursue a career he loves and make time for his family are the things that Ash is most grateful for. But he makes a conscious effort to keep the two separate to maintain a healthy work-life balance. "Within my routine, I always make sure I get home to see my son Taylor before he goes to bed. When I’m at work, I’m completely focused on it. So when I get home I just want to be completely present with my family; no phone, no laptop, just us."

Putting family first, both in the workplace and at home, are attributes that Ash owes to his biggest inspiration. "Anything good that people like about my brother and I, I attribute back to my mum, Karen. She achieves unthinkable feats in her job everyday looking after young men with learning difficulties, helping them do things deemed impossible by doctors and their parents. She is my inspiration."

And clearly putting his mother’s inspiration into practice, Ash puts those around him before himself. From caring for the community culture at Gymshark to providing for his family, the time that Ash invests in himself goes out towards those around him. "We all have goals and ambitions, but as long as my family are happy and I’m bringing my son up to be a good person, I’m winning. And no matter what I do or how far I go, I will never forget who got me here and how lucky I am to do what I love, every single day."

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Categories: Clothing and Fashion, Sportswear

Gymshark, Tue, 29 Mar 2022 14:17:52 GMT