Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) alumna Kristan Ash is part of Business in Vancouver’s latest cohort of the top 40 entrepreneurs, executives and professionals under 40 in the region.
Ash has been a major supporter of KPU since graduating with her bachelor of business administration in 2003. She helped found and currently serves on the board of the university’s alumni association (having formerly served as its chair), is the alumni appointee on the university’s board of governors and is a member of the university senate.
Outside of her significant contributions to her alma mater, Ash has been a pioneer in home-based health services and an innovator in the health care industry. She will be recognized Jan. 28, 2015 as one of 40 exemplary leaders.
“I am very honoured,” said Ash. “My decisions in business have been driven by my passion for providing care and helping others. To be recognized for that both validates what has been and continues to be a lifelong goal, and is incredibly humbling.”
A self-described “hospital brat,” Ash spent many of her formative years at her father’s bedside. As he underwent ongoing treatment for a chronic and incurable disease, Ash noticed gaps in her father’s care and his quality of life.
After a false start at nursing school, Ash turned to the KPU School of Business, where she was able to merge her passion for helping others with her knowledge of the inner workings of the public health care system, and back both with strong business acumen.
Ash launched Generations Home Care Solutions shortly after graduation, a company ahead of its time in the then emerging industry of home-based health services. The following year, Ash sold her company to Nurse Next Door (NND), took a position as vice-president of franchise and business development, and started the company’s franchise system. Under her leadership, NND opened 19 franchises, and became a household name that stood for independent living.
From there, she joined Helping Hands Rehabilitation Services – a group of physiotherapy, hand therapy, chronic disease management and physical rehabilitation clinics throughout the Fraser Valley – and grew their number of clinics from two to five in just over 24 months.
Having seen success in developing businesses, Ash set out to tackle a different kind of development.
Swapping her business suit for a hard hat and steel-toed boots, Ash left Helping Hands to oversee the construction, business planning, sales and marketing of Bear Creek Villa, a 130-unit independent living facility in Surrey.
Today, she is the director of home health for We Care/CBI Home Health Services, the largest private health care service provider in Canada with more than 4,700 clinical and support professionals, including physiotherapists, occupational therapists, massage therapists, family physicians and nurses.
Ash serves as a member of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s annual fundraising walk, and a board member of the B.C. Care Providers’ Association. She is also on the board of the JumpKick Martial Arts Foundation, and holds her Lean Greenbelt and Lean Blackbelt from Lean Sensei International.
She is currently working toward her MBA through Athabasca University.