Women In Business Q&A: Ashley Haseotes, President and Founder, One Mission

Ashley Haseotes

Ashley Haseotes is The President and Founder of One Mission, Inc. One Mission is a pediatric cancer charity that alleviates the relentless wrath that cancer unleashes every single day for children and their families. One Mission puts the kids before the cancer. Ashley graduated from Framingham State College in 1998 and is currently pursing her master degree in Mental Health Counseling. Ashley worked in the mortgage industry for 8 years at World Savings prior to starting her family. Shortly after he was born, Ashley's first child was diagnosed with cancer. He is now 10 years cancer free. This experience inspired Ashley and her husband Ari to start a non-profit that would help other families through this same journey. Ashley resides with her family in the Metro West Area of Massachusetts.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I am an only child, and was raised by a single mother, so figuring stuff out on my own has always been how I roll. From coming home from school to an empty house at the age of 8, to cooking my own dinners the nights my mother worked her second job, I just figured it out. Having your parents divorced forces you to grow up a bit faster than your peers. It is like life gets real, no more puppy dogs and ice cream! No matter how hard parents try to shelter the anger, sadness and hurt of the divorce from their kids we see it, and feel it. Tough stuff, no doubt.

Having to be a grown up myself at such a young age, gave me the tools I needed when it came time to start my own business. Once the idea for One Mission was born I figured the rest out piece by piece.

How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at One Mission?
Picture your boss going around your office with a pizza cutter and pointing it at you asking how many sales appointments you booked that day! Yup, that was my first real job. The pizza cutter aside, I sold mortgages for a living before I had my first-born. I worked for World Savings, and at the time we were the second largest Savings and Loan Institution. I am terrible at math, which is hilarious that I needed it everyday for this job. Actually, during this job interview I walked out after I figured out how much math I was going to need to use. They called me back after 6 months, and convinced me I would be great at the job, and the rest is history.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at One Mission?
I founded One Mission in 2009 after watching my son fight cancer. At first I just wanted to start a non-profit that helped the hospital that saved my son, I didn't really have a solid plan at that point. What ended up happening is similar to what happens when you give a child chocolate for the first time. Once I got a taste for how impactful the money we gave the hospital actually was, I just couldn't stop coming up with ways I wanted to help these kids! We lived at Boston Children's Hospital for over 180 days, we literally called it home. Being a part of making living in the hospital easier for parents and more fun for kids has become my wheelhouse. Over 80% of the money One Mission raises comes from our event The Buzz Off. This event grew so fast and so big for the first three years that I am left with crazy stretch marks! We are leveling out now and are focused on ways to grow and improve rather than reacting to the growth and playing catch up.

What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?
If you have found your path to the non-profit world, congratulations and welcome to some of the most rewarding work out there! If I could tell you only one thing it would be this: Have passion for what you do, and if you don't feel it, find a new gig. Passion for your cause is what will separate the good from the great. Passion for your cause is what will help ease the sleepless nights, loss of a few friends because you are always working, and what will keep you moving forward when you think you have run out of gas.

Your job is not about the money, or the power you may acquire. A not for profit job is about helping those in need. Each day you will make the ask on behalf of your beneficiaries. I never feel badly about making the ask, I simply picture the parents in their child's hospital bed at 2am holding the pink bucket while their child vomits for the 30th time that day. I feel zero shame in asking my waiter, the valet guy or the locksmith to shave their head for One Mission. I know the parents of the children I help need me to ask. I ask for them!

What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?
Surround yourself with people who are better than you. We all have weaknesses; find people who can make up for yours. Together you will make one kick ass team.
Be real. Be honest. Be kind.
Rome was not built in a day. Be patient. Keep working.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Honestly, running a business with three young children can be challenging at best. I find that just when you think everyone is doing well and things are going smoothly, BAM one kid starts having trouble in school or the other kid never stops crying and telling you that you are never home and why can't you do pick up from school like the other mommies! Good times. The reality of this work/Life balance issue is that it is a work in progress and will never be on point or perfect.

I do my best, I like that my children see me working to help children with cancer. I like that they know I raise money that helps living in the hospital easier for sick kids. Do my kids wish I were around more? Yes. Does my husband wish I had a hot dinner on the table waiting for him each night? Defintely. But welcome to the real world. I work in the non-profit sector and I am doing the job of three people while still trying to make it to a parent teacher conference on time for once!

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Issues only exist if you believe they do. Hurdles can be jumped over, or in my case, pushed aside out of my way to go after what I wanted. If I named here a list of issues women could run into in their career, one of two things could happen. 1. My list could create doubt in a woman who previously didn't have any or 2. I just gave someone a crutch to not push herself as hard. Life has obstacles--figure out a way to get around them.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I read "Promise me" by Nancy Brinker when I was in my late 20's, before I got married. I loved how her passion for helping and making a difference lead her to start a mogul non-profit! I could identify with her drive then, and once my son was diagnosed with leukemia I understood her mission.

I wouldn't say that I have had a true mentor; rather I have seen what I didn't want and made adjustments to myself in accordance. My husband is the President and CEO of Cumberland Farms, and so we often talk business. Picture fun date nights filled with budget discussions, how to create a cool office culture and so much more! Not your typical date night, but we love it.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Oprah Winfrey. Seriously with this woman!! Talk about laser focus and pushing obstacles aside to reach her goals. I listen to her CD's with Deepak and both of their voices sound like heaven to me. I would die a thousand deaths to ever meet her! Honestly, any story of struggle, perseverance and determination always gets me. I think I just described most leaders, so suffice it to say that I am always looking, reading, watching and learning, but that I am writing my own story. We are all on our own journey; no two are the same. So while looking to others for mentorship can provide assistance, we forge on alone.

What do you want One Mission to accomplish in the next year?
There are not a lot of charities that do what One Mission does to the extent we do, and with the sustainability we provide. We focus on improving the day-to-day life of kids while they fight cancer. We offer help and assistance to their parents so they can focus on their sick child. We are changing the way our hospital partners navigate non-profit vs individual donors, and we are sticking to our mission in our growth. What I want is for One Mission to continue to make smart growth decisions and become the pediatric cancer charity that hospitals call when they want to improve life for children with cancer living in their hospitals.