A Q&A session with Inspire’s Retail Channel Manager, Ahsika Sanders.
Over the past few years, Inspire has experienced massive growth while striving for a future where clean energy is accessible to everyone, everywhere, no matter who they are. As the renewable energy industry expands, so does our member base — and this is where Ahsika Sanders (she/her) comes in.
As our Northeast Retail Channel Manager, Ahsika said she has "loved sharing our vision for a brighter energy future at various events, trade shows, local businesses and conventions throughout the greater Philadelphia area." Despite a position in sales previously being far outside her comfort zone, Ahsika says that working at Inspire has taught her to put herself out there and embrace vulnerability.
Not only is Ahsika a powerhouse at interfacing with customers and sales partners, she also plays an instrumental role in contributing to Inspire's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) initiatives and serves our BIPOC employees as the Represents co-chair within our Employee Resource Group (ERG).
We sat down with Ahsika to learn more about her many hats within the organization. Here's what she had to say:
Q: Introduce yourself. Tell us what you do, what led you to Inspire, and what you've currently been up to with your team.
A: I'm Ahsika, Inspire's Northeast Channel Manager for the retail sales team. I am responsible for driving growth initiatives and delivering sales results through the retail channel.
I work with external sales partners to execute high-quality, face-to-face interactions to acquire new members. In addition to that, I also work with retail partners to ensure that Inspire is a good steward of the space and creates mutual value in the partnership.
Q: What's it like being a tenured Inspire team member and watching the company grow as well as your career?
A: Since joining Inspire in 2016, I've had the pleasure of directly driving growth in our member base and telling our story in many different ways. I love that we are always up to something new and have embraced every opportunity. I got to develop unique relationships with local retailers, event producers, and local non-profit organizations.
Currently, I get to work with partners and corporate retailers to further our mission and advance our growth initiatives at a higher level. I am beyond excited to scale faster and more efficiently in the coming months and years. This new chapter feels exactly like what we've needed to accelerate our membership, and I am honored to have been a part of our origin story!
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your unique experience of engaging with Inspire members?
A: My very first conversation with someone about Inspire landed me my first sale. I complimented a lady on her lovely rainbow hair, introduced her to our brand and walked her through our mission. For her, it clicked instantly, and she was probably my "easiest" sale, but also my most important because at that moment I bought the brand alongside her. From "have you heard of Inspire?" to "thanks for supporting our mission," I'd bought what I was selling.
Although I no longer make those sales myself, I love working with partners and sales teams to help them understand and believe in our brand in such a way that they've bought into every pitch and believe in every new sale.
Q: You also play a significant role in creating community through Inspire's ERG program. Can you share more about that and how you got involved?
A: Serving my fellow BIPOC employees as the Represents co-chair has been such a fulfilling experience. I have been humbled by my colleagues' willingness to share, learn and grow as we navigate the complexities of building a diverse & accepting workplace. Together, we've learned about different cultures and their unique perspectives and challenges and have created a space for us to lean on one another and develop allyship with BIPOC employees.
Additionally, it has meant the world to me to play an instrumental part in contributing to our DE&I initiatives. I respect the fact that Inspire looked in the mirror last year when the world took to the streets to demand justice in the wake of George Floyd's murder. The ERG is the result of what we found when we began that inner-work, and I am honored to have been chosen to play a part in shaping such an essential part of the culture we all love here.
Q: What's the most challenging but rewarding part about working at Inspire?
A: We are ever-changing, but that commitment to innovation opens new doors for us. Along the way, we rallied behind many of the benefits our product offered our members, and in doing so, we got excited about all the possibilities. It's not the easiest pill to swallow when we have to pivot or revise our vision, but trusting the process has been a rewarding experience because we keep moving forward.
Rudyard Kipling said that, "If you can dream—and not make dreams your master; if you can think—and not make thoughts your aim; if you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same."
It's been rewarding to see Inspire dream big but not fall prey to tunnel vision in pursuit of something that isn't right for us at the time. We aren't tethered to innovation to the extent that we fail at execution, and we aren't afraid to swing big and miss if we learn from having stepped up to the plate.
Q: What have you accomplished at Inspire so far that you're most proud of?
A: Leading the charge on the BJ's Wholesale Club rollout as part of our post-Covid ramp-up. It meant a lot to establish trust with our corporate partner and our sales forces when there was so much uncertainty.
I value developing and nurturing relationships, and launching this program allowed me to live that value while executing an aggressive target. It's always nice when your job and your joy intersect.
Q: How does Inspire allow you to grow both personally and professionally?
A: I was taken outside of my comfort zone working in sales more than in any other professional experience I've had. Working in a sales function meant constantly putting yourself out there and embracing vulnerability, so I learned to be brave by just saying, "yes.”
Inspire has taught me to expect the unexpected. I've learned to embrace change in the workplace with optimism for a positive outcome. My time here has also taught me how valuable my colleagues are to my personal and professional experiences.
A conversation with a coworker or a well-timed Slack chat has turned around many rough days, and I genuinely value our people-first mentality. I've learned the importance of trying my hardest to be the colleague that I know I need and want to work alongside me.
Are you ready to empower customers to choose clean energy and help create a greener future? Join our team! We're a Certified Great Place To Work, and are always looking for talented individuals who are ready to make an impact.