We are thrilled to interview an exceptional guest and add her to our Champ Life Series; Ashley Dudarenok, a serial entrepreneur hailing from China.
We’ve got a series of questions for Ashley to learn more about her journey & her successes
Kulsoom: Hi Ashley, thanks for being a part of our #ChampsLifeSeries. To start off, please introduce yourself.
Ashley: Hello, guys, I’m Ashley Dudarenok, a serial entrepreneur hailing from China. I’m the founder behind Alarice, a marketing agency, and ChoZan, a digital consultancy. My expertise in the realm of marketing has been acknowledged by various awards and recognitions, such as LinkedIn Top Voice, “Guru on Digital Marketing and Fast-evolving Trends in China” Thinkers50, and others.
Over the past decade, through ChoZan, we’ve collaboratively shaped the future of retail and ecosystems with major Chinese tech giants such as Alibaba, JD, and Tencent. Today we guide global tech giants and MNCs in learning from China’s digital ascent and applying those lessons at home. As a professional speaker, I’ve spoken at over 300 events globally, sharing insights on customer centricity, retail’s future, and China’s digitalization success stories.
With 10 books on digital China under my belt and a presence in top-tier media outlets like Bloomberg and Forbes, my mission is to catalyze growth, share knowledge, and make an enduring impact, building business bridges between China and the world.
Kulsoom: Can you share the story of how you embarked on your journey as a Keynote Speaker and Author? What inspired you to pursue these paths?
Ashley: My journey as a keynote speaker and author began with the allure of China’s dynamic market and the demand for insights on marketing, consumer trends, and e-commerce strategies. After delivering over 60 talks, I transitioned to charging for my expertise, a move met with enthusiastic approval. This journey led me to invest in further personal development, resulting in the launch of our content line encompassing books, daily insights, newsletters, and more.
As a professional speaker, I’m committed to leaving audiences transformed: feeling differently, thinking differently, and acting differently after the session. My three top themes include customer centricity, the future of retail, and lending from China. Explore more here.
Kulsoom: We’ve heard about you taking initiatives in shaping the future of retail and the ecosystem. When did you first realize its potential, and what motivated you to take a leadership role in this domain?
Ashley: After living in China for a few years, I realized the huge potential in shaping the future of retail and digital ecosystems by sharing ideas between different markets. China was embarking on digital retail and social commerce and also had a huge and thriving offline retail market; the collective West also had ideas, technology, and formats to implement; it was clear they could learn from each other and that the future of retail will be very different from what it is today.
Since, through ChoZan, we were helping foreign companies learn from successful Chinese business models (and helping Chinese companies be on par with global standards as well), it was most exciting to help businesses in this new era through visionary initiatives.
Kulsoom: Can you Tell us about the inception of your digital marketing agency Alarice and digital consultancy ChoZan? How did these ventures come into existence?
Ashley: Essentially, both Alarice and ChoZan were rooted in the untapped potential we saw of social media & digitalization in China. Back in the mid-2000s, even before the Western fully got on board with social media and e-commerce, China was already embracing it after SARS.
I personally. witnessed the digital prowess of Chinese consumers, who were already actively engaging on platforms like Taobao for daily needs. As a student, I bought all my daily necessities on Taobao. Social media was also more competitive and, in some aspects, more viral and ripe in China back in the early 2010s. This inspired me to create Alarice at a time when few believed in “social media marketing” as a concept. It began simply with crafting helping foreign brands with marketing in China, then evolving into digital marketing, and finally, primarily social media marketing in China.
ChoZan started as an answer to the growing demand of clients seeking continuous upskilling for their teams in areas spanning marketing, e-commerce, and global-local dynamics. Our services were crafted to address these evolving requirements, and we are conscious of laying a solid foundation for business excellence via the future of digital innovation. We provide training, consulting, and China insights to multinationals working on the mainland.
Kulsoom: What drove you to start them, and how has the entrepreneurial journey experience been so far?
Ashley: I started my own business partly due to boredom in the corporate world and partly because I wanted to have a big impact on the industry and people around me. The desire to do more and become more. Fueled by the guiding principle that business should add value to people while generating profit, I embarked on this entrepreneurial journey.
My core approach lies in adding value not just for my customers but also for my team and community. My ventures aim to make money not just to survive in the market but also to thrive and grow while pulling up & enriching the lives of the people around me.
Kulsoom: You must have faced challenges at the start of your journey. How did you navigate through them and overcome the obstacles?
Ashley: Navigating the challenges at the outset of my journey was driven by a fit mindset and outcome-focused approach. I learned to ask better questions, like “How can I have fun while achieving this & that?” This shift to asking ‘how’ instead of ‘why’ allowed me to find solutions. Patience played a key role, too; I realized that many issues resolved themselves over time.
With a blend of positive perspective, strategic thinking, and allowing time to work its magic, I managed to overcome obstacles and pave the path toward success.
Kulsoom: Over the years, the Digital Community has grown exponentially. How do you perceive its power and influence in today’s world?
Ashley: The Digital Community’s remarkable growth holds immense power and influence in today’s world. As various entities, from companies to individuals, converge within an interconnected ecosystem, we collaboratively complement, compete, and, most crucially, grow together.
Technology serves as the pivotal cornerstone, enabling digital expansion and fostering global connectivity. Being at the forefront of this dynamic evolution, particularly here in Asia, fills me with excitement as we collectively shape the future of the digital realm & pave the way for unprecedented advancements and possibilities.
Kulsoom: As an inspiring entrepreneur, what advice would you offer to emerging startups and entrepreneurs in the digital marketing sphere?
Ashley: To budding entrepreneurs venturing into the digital marketing sphere, my advice is to invest in your own growth, recognizing that your business can only thrive as much as your mindset does. Prioritize adding value and generating revenue while finding joy in your journey.
Discover how your business can enrich your life beyond monetary gains, understanding that money serves as a resource to materialize your goals. By cultivating a resilient mindset, focusing on value creation, and embracing the holistic rewards of entrepreneurship, you’ll forge a path to enduring success in the dynamic world of digital marketing.
Kulsoom: Who is your inspiration, both personally and professionally?
Ashley: My inspiration comes from diverse sources. Personally, it’s the growth and achievements of my team, witnessing their journey and outstanding creations. Professionally, the ever-evolving landscape of my industry, its innovation, collaboration, and collective drive to elevate standards fuels my passion.
Also, the fact that you are making a real impact & creating tangible progress is a reward in itself. We serve brands and corporations and positively impact people’s daily lives and work. That alone imbues me with a profound sense of purpose. The greatest inspiration, however, lies in the ability to effect tangible change and drive progress, where the power to shape reality from the imagination becomes a truly fulfilling and enjoyable endeavor. That’s fun.
Kulsoom: Stepping aside from work, how do you spend your free time? Anything in particular that helps you recalibrate and break the monotony?
Ashley: Outside of work, I stay active through various sports and activities like weight training, street dancing, and taekwondo, I also often catch up with friends. I also find joy in solo trips to jazz clubs for dancing and indulging in my love for tea by visiting a favorite cafe for scones and earl grey.
These personal pursuits recharge me and offer a refreshing break from routine, a reminder to prioritize real-life experiences. Taking time to enjoy these moments is essential. You need to find your own “little happy moments,” schedule them in and enjoy them daily. There’s no excuse to skip real life. 🙂
Kulsoom: Now it’s time for our rapid-fire round:
Rapid Fire Round
|What’s your one favorite social media platform?||Linkedin, without a doubt|
|Tea or Coffee||Always tea|
|Your Ideal Travel Destination?||I travel a lot and with pleasure. Can’t pick one, but in the near future, I’ll be off to Paris, New York, and Osaka|
And that’s a wrap! We are thankful to Ashley Dudarenok for her precious time and for sharing her stories and experience with our champ audience.