Urban Mobility Index


Run with Integrity

“It's really coming as you are, being unapologetically yourself.”

“It's really coming as you are, being unapologetically yourself.”


Terry: We're going to talk now about Run With Integrity. Another one of these Run With Purpose concepts. Integrity and being true to your values is a really important quality for us at Oliver Wyman and clearly one that you all have demonstrated in your personal lives, professional lives, and in what you've done in building Saysh.

Wes, you were quoted as saying, "The world doesn't need another shoe company, what it needs is better companies." Can you elaborate a little bit on that?

Wes: Yeah, I think that the main reason that I feel like Saysh has to be a better company, it's not just we aspire to be, it will not work unless we are, that's actually what the world needs. That's what our customer needs.

And what we found is, by launching our brand behind Allyson and the change that Allyson is putting into the world, what we found was that women were immediately inspired and connected to our brand.

That's what we have to be as a company. We have to be full of integrity and we have to see and know women, our customer. And so, some of the ways that we try to do that is we have a maternity returns policy, and it's a way that we see women and try to show up for them.

Mark: So, mission led individuals, a mission led brand in business, which I know and Terry knows also come with higher valuations, typically, in terms of priced earnings, multiples or whatnot. Why don't we see more of this? Why don't we see integrity at the forefront of all companies?

Allyson: To be mission driven, it's so much more than just marketing. And I think that was my previous experience. I really bought in. I really believed that everything that this company was selling to everyone was what was happening internally as well. And I remember when it was the last straw: I had just come home, brought my daughter home from the NICU [neonatal intensive care unit] after a month, and I'm sitting in her nursery and I'm just being there with her. And this request had come in for me to be a part of this commercial around the Women's World Cup. And internally, we're having these battles around maternal protections and it's been really difficult. And then I'm asked to be a part of a Women's World Cup campaign: A campaign literally to tell women and girls that they can do anything.

And for me, that was the moment where I just couldn't stand behind it. That was not my experience. And I felt like I would be lying to sit there and to be a part of something that was telling a young girl that they could do anything. And so that's what it is. It's hard to live that out, but I think that it's absolutely necessary.

Terry: So that internal consistency between the image you portrayed to the world like, "We're about girl power," you told me once that you really felt like it was part of being part of a family, trying to have an impact. But then do you actually do all the hard yards to actually ensure that you live that every day? Which just sounds like you guys are doing quite a bit.

We had also talked at a point about living with integrity and how you compete and what you do, whether it's on the track or where we compete in business. And I'd love it if you all would share a little about track and field and what it means to compete with integrity.

Allyson: For me, it was a huge point of frustration throughout my career because I knew that all the time it was not a level playing field. And when you're doing something, it is so frustrating: You're doing something the right way, you know that you are, you're there day in and day out grinding and your body hurts and everything's aching. And you stand on the line, and you know that someone has been cheating or taking advantage of the situation. It's really challenging. And it felt like, what's the point if I'm going up against this impossible thing?

But I think it comes back to that integrity. For me, I'd rather win a silver medal knowing that I've given my all and I've done it the right way, versus a gold medal and you've cheated your way there. And so, to me, integrity is so important, and to me it's really inspired me throughout my career just to stick with it. And no, you might not end with the fastest time and the world record, but you have your integrity and you have your character. And I'm able to tell my daughter and teach her that you do things the right way no matter what you're facing.

Wes: I think what's really important there is that a lot of times your purpose is bigger than your goal. And I think that for you, you set goals, the goals were medals, but your purpose was so much bigger than your goals. And so gold medals, that was your goal, but your purpose was creating change, and your purpose, I think – and even with what we're doing in Saysh – the purpose is so much bigger than the goal. But you're not going to know that until you move forward on your journey.

Terry: I think when we often think about values. We'll often talk about it with clients or even when we're doing it within our own company, we've often reflected on it. And values, you know you're living your values when you make decisions that cost you something. It's really easy to claim you're living your values when it's aligned and everything's going in the right direction. But it's like what do you do when no one's looking? Or what do you do when it's going to cost you

Mark: But your purpose versus objectives resonates too. I think for us, we aspire to be the advisory firm that has the most integrity in the work we do, whether it's analytical integrity or whether it's integrity in the advice that we're giving.

But to your point of it does come at an expense, it's never free. As your team, as your business, grows, how are you going to make sure that integrity remains at the core of what Saysh is all about?

Allyson: I know that we're both just uncompromising about how we are building this company. At the core is our mission and it's seeing women and it's valuing them. So, as we build the team, that is something that we have to connect with from the very beginning. We have to share that purpose. That's the only way we're going to be able to move forward. And so, as we move forward, that's something that won't change and so I think that will always be who we are.

Mark: Running with purpose has gotten faster and more intense. When you think about work-life quality and finding that balance, how have you done that?

Allyson: I feel like there is no balance. There's no way to balance it. If there is, I haven't figured it out, but I really like to try to integrate my family life with my work and to make both exist together, which is challenging. It's really hard.

Some days it looks like feeling like I'm absolutely killing it at work and coming home and it seems like things are falling apart. And other days it's the reverse.

Terry: It's like the ultimate athlete. Part of what's driving it is the drive. Can I let myself slow down? Can I let myself create my own boundaries? And then it's our job within the firm to help the firm create the boundaries where that can thrive. But I do think it is a balance, it's both it's the external and it's the self-motivation.

Wes: That self-talk. There's the self-talk. You have to have grace towards yourself or else. We talk a lot about putting your own oxygen mask on first, this idea that you're trying to encourage other people to have balance. I find myself all the time talking to our team saying, "Really, take the time off. You really have to. I want you to take it off. You're trying to find a new daycare facility for your kid, take Friday. It's no problem."

Mark: So, Allyson, you speak about integrating personal and professional. We also talked a little bit about bringing our true selves and how we show up every day, and that authentic self. How do you do this?

Allyson: I think it's really coming as you are, being unapologetically yourself. And I think I've been able to do that definitely more as I've had more experience in really understanding who I am more.

I just think back to all of the different moments – and there have been a lot of moments that I've been able to celebrate and be really proud of – and those have felt really great. But there have been a lot of other challenging moments where I think far outweigh the celebratory moments, or the moments that where you miss the mark and you haven't been able to reach that ultimate goal. But still moving forward, still being your authentic self, still holding on to your values, your integrity, your character, and being committed to showing up that way every day.

Up Next


Run with courage

Find out how Allyson has conquered fears and overcome adversity in athletics and beyond.


Run with New Ideas

Follow the journey of Saysh from bold idea to purpose-driven business.