Class of 2006
Asha Morgan Moran was a business consultant in Chicago before she became president of global operations at Creative Memories Inc. — the role she had when she was named among the 5 Under 40 for 2006.
What are you doing now?
Strategy consulting with Clear Path Consulting and a principal with Glen Street Capital, both based in St. Cloud.
How did the 5 Under 40 award affect your life?
When I think about the effect of the award on my life, the word that pops into my head is responsibility — the responsibility to be a leader for this community.
Other big changes since you received the award?
I am no longer under 40!
What will make the St. Cloud area greater in coming years?
I believe that continued and improved collaboration across the community to support clear priorities can make St. Cloud even greater.
Originally ran: January 1, 2007
Asha Morgan Moran came to work for the family business in 2000 to lead international expansion plans for Creative Memories Inc.
Now, as president of one of the area's largest employers, she is setting a new course for the direct sales company. Drastic changes in the industry have pushed the business beyond its scrapbooking roots and led it to redefine its product lines to include digital, custom framing and storybooks.
Job: President of global operations for Creative Memories Inc., a St. Cloud-based direct sales company and maker of scrapbooks and preservation products.
Education: Bachelor's in economics from Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa; master's in business administration from J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management from Northwestern University, Chicago.
Family: Husband, Marty; daughter, Priya, 3; son, Martin, 1.
High school sports: Basketball and soccer.
Favorite pastime: Sports, especially soccer. She has seen six World Cups since 1986, including the most recent in Germany.
Favorite movie: "Victory."
Prized possession: A hand-calligraphy marriage certificate that guests signed at her wedding, a Quaker tradition.
One place she would like to go: The Milford Track in New Zealand. She has walked the Great Wall, hiked Mount Kilimanjaro and kayaked in the Amazon.
What's the best advice you've received?
My father once told me before you ever fire somebody make sure you understand their strengths as well as you understand their weaknesses. I think that's incredibly important, because nobody's perfect. And the important thing is to capitalize on people's strengths and not let them try to play to their weaknesses. And Cheryl Lightle, who was the founder and former president of Creative Memories, told me it's all about the people. It's about leading the internal team and leading the external customers.
How did you know it was a good time to work at the family business?
I had done a lot of business consulting (at firms in Chicago) and I think gotten a lot of experience. I think the next choice was to commit to consulting for the long term and try to move toward that partner track. Or just say OK, let's move into the industry side. Consulting is great because you get to see everything, you learn so much and you're constantly challenged, but you get to make a recommendation and leave. Now I get to do that and then I have to live with it.
How have you emerged as a local leader?
Slowly. We're transplants to St. Cloud. For a long time, I knew how to get to my house, to Cub Foods and to the office. But after you live in St. Cloud for a while, you realize it's a different place to be a part of a community. To be here, you have an obligation to contribute to the community because it's going to thrive or not depending on how much people contribute to it.
What has challenged you most?
The world has been changing around that formula (we created 19 years ago for scrapbooking). We have had to really look over the last two years on how we need to change and to consistently balance the things that should stay the same and the things that continue to evolve. We're not a scrapbooking company anymore. What we've talked about is that we're only moving toward helping people showcase the best in life, and it has been a challenge to set that direction, but even more so, to figure out how to execute that direction and to help bring people along.
That restructuring has led to a series of layoffs in the last two years.
That has been the single most difficult thing in the six years I've been here. If we want to grow and continue to thrive, we have to make changes — and they're tough, tough changes. But I think what we need to keep reminding ourselves is, that's what it's going to take to drive forward to the future to create those opportunities.
What mark do you hope you leave on this community?
I hope that I can create … a socially responsible business. We've worked to try to establish a triple bottom line so we're measuring not only our financial impact, but our economic impact as well as our social impact. We still have a long way to go on both, figuring out how to measure it and then how to improve it.
Why are you someone to watch in the future?
Because I want to make a difference. Because I think how I make that difference is going to change over time. Not only do I want to make a difference, but I think I have some skills I can contribute.
What is your dream job?
I would love to go into the Peace Corps. I spent a little time in grad school (helping companies in Costa Rica and El Salvador). When you talk about applying the skills you have, I feel like business skills in some of those areas can be very helpful. I don't know how to save a life, but I can figure out how to grow a business.