The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Pinnacle Awards were announced Oct. 11, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place live, in-person Nov. 30.
Next is National Security/DHS Executive of the Year (Private Company) finalist Ashley Brush, who’s vice president of federal civilian at MetroStar Systems. Here, she talks success in her current role, proud organizational moments, overcoming career struggles and more.
What has made you successful in your current role?
I don’t believe anyone’s success can be attributed to one factor but rather a combination of factors. I was raised by two hard-working parents who were always present and in my corner as my biggest fans. They encouraged me to take risks which helped lay a critical foundation for my success.
I’ve learned a lot throughout my career from the great leaders around me, but maybe even more from the not-so-great leaders I’ve encountered. I believe that building trusted relationships, always staying true to my word, following through with my actions, continuously learning, and bringing empathy to my business and operational decision-making have made me successful.
What are you most proud of having been a part of in your current organization?
One of my proudest contributions at MetroStar was establishing an annual International Women’s Day event to elevate the voices of female leaders in our industry. The free event created an open dialogue that has spanned many timely and important topics, from diversity, equity, and inclusion, to navigating power structures and giving advice to those early in their career journeys.
It’s important that we publicly raise and champion a dialogue around the many inequities in our workplace today and demonstrate a counterculture that embraces DEI and intentionally seeks to build an inclusive workforce.
What was your biggest career struggle and how did you overcome it?
Shortly before the pandemic, I was lucky to become a mother for the first time. Coming back to work, struggling with severe post-partum anxiety, and trying to find my bearings as both an executive and a mom was extremely difficult.
Within two months of being back to work, still barely adjusted to my new routine as a mom, the pandemic happened. Childcare support was not an option due to a very sick family member who couldn’t be exposed to additional risks, and I hit absolute rock bottom while struggling to work and care for my son. There were moments I considered quitting my job altogether.
I got through it because of a strong community of other moms who were also struggling. They supported me and each other. With that support, I looked into flexibilities on how and when I work, so that I could focus on my son during the day and find a shared balance of responsibility with my partner.
I believe we are failing working parents in so many ways as a country, and we must address this head-on to avoid extremely talented segments of our national workforce from burning out or exiting.