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Washington University in St Louis Olin Business School

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Cheryl Hill Polk, Executive MBA

Cheryl Hill Polk

EMBA Class 31
Senior Business Executive and Community Leader
"The EMBA curriculum emphasizes strategy, innovation, and execution, areas where many nonprofit organizations struggle."
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"The program enhanced my service on both corporate and nonprofit boards, and it enables me to help organizations develop strategies for long-term success."

Return on investment

"I cannot put a dollar value on my Executive MBA degree. So the best way to measure ROI would be to consider my work with hundreds of nonprofit organizations, locally and across the country. I help agencies and organizations have a greater impact on the people they serve.

"The EMBA curriculum emphasizes strategy, innovation, and execution, areas where many nonprofit organizations struggle. These organizations believe financial resources are the immediate answers to all their challenges. But research has found – and my experience during and after the Executive MBA program has demonstrated – financial resources aren’t enough. Agencies that develop short- and long-term strategic plans, embrace innovation, and learn to be agile in their implementation of initiatives respond better to the needs of society."

Diverse cultures, industries, expertise, and thought

Polk says she was impressed by the dedication and discipline of her classmates, "who absorbed information like a sponge." Her study group included corporate executives and an entrepreneur. "My team – the A-Team, we called ourselves – was diverse. It had women, an African-American individual and a Chinese individual. A few of us already had master’s degrees; one of us had a Ph.D."

The varied backgrounds and perspectives enabled the group "to address challenging management issues with diversity of thought. Many years after graduation, I continue to learn from my team. We try to meet at least twice a year to catch up personally and professionally."

Her advice for other nonprofit agency professionals

"Your organization is a business, and it deserves the leadership and technical expertise you gain in Olin’s Executive MBA program. Take advantage of the opportunity. It’s a win/win for your agency and for your community."

Cheryl Hill Polk

Senior Business Executive and Community Leader

Previous Employment

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer and Chief Strategy Officer, United Way of Greater St. Louis
Director, American Red Cross Biomedical Services – Missouri Illinois Blood Region

Background

Education: Executive Leadership Program, Cornell University, S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management;
BA, Broadcast Journalism, Creighton University