MBA alumna Cheyenne Martins focuses on making the most of opportunities

  • February 23, 2024
  • By Suzanne Koziatek
  • 3 minute read

Cheyenne Martins credits much of her career success so far to a series of opportunities that others have given her. With each one of those opportunities, Martins used the skills she’d built—including through her dual degrees at WashU—to meet the challenge.

Martins, MBA 2016, was recently named senior director, forecasting & strategic projects as part of the  financial planning & analysis team at national retailer Ross Stores Inc. She leads a team that examines the company’s data to help the company’s executives in strategic decision-making.

In describing her journey to WashU, and eventually to Ross in California, Martins remembers those who gave her chances along the way. It’s made her determined to extend the same trust to others.

“Often now, I’m trying to look for a reason a person should be given a chance,” she said. “It’s less about what it is on paper and more about how I see you work. Is there a spark in you that gives me the reason I’m looking for to give you a chance?”

The strength of a team

A friend introduced Martins to WashU and Olin after she earned her undergraduate degree elsewhere. “My best friend went (to WashU) to do a bachelor’s and knew people in the MBA program,” she said. “Every time I talked to him, he talked about how amazing it was there: The great experience, the small classes, the knowledgeable professors.”

Knowing she wanted to advance her studies further, she applied to WashU’s engineering program, and eventually, through the dual degree program, also pursued an MBA through Olin.

“I was a little bit of an outlier for an MBA student since I had no full-time (working) experience at the time.” She counted her acceptance to Olin as one of those pivotal chances she was given.

“I know for me it truly changed my life,” Martins said. “I wasn’t good with people before my MBA—I had a harder time connecting and making small talk. It was not my forte.”

Her experience in the MBA program impressed upon her the importance of working on a team.

You can only execute so much by yourself. When I went to Olin, I learned so much about teamwork. I learned what drives people, what motivates people. And how do you tap into that to better yourself and better them?  

Cheyenne Martins

Martins said of her current leadership position: “I never would have been able to do this without Olin.”

A strategic approach

Another important opportunity came when Martins applied to work at Ross. The recruitment process was very thoughtful and deliberate, allowing her to get to know and build relationships with the hiring team who ultimately championed her through to her first role with the company. Throughout her time at Ross, Martins has continued to be impressed by the company which rewards hard work and invests in its employees. “It’s a fantastic place to work.”

At Ross, Martins has leaned heavily on her experience at WashU, where she had to pivot from her undergraduate studies in chemistry to chemical engineering, while simultaneously pursuing her MBA. The experience informs how she approaches her work at Ross, in which the ability to prioritize and strategically problem-solve as circumstances change is often necessary. “You can’t just do the same thing you’ve been doing constantly. Instead, how do you think of something differently, pivot, and come up with a new solution on the fly?” Martins said. “That ability is what has really helped me in my career.”

As Martins continues with Ross—she’s been in her new position for a few months and her team is growing—she said she’s thankful for all the people who have taken chances on her. “I’m very grateful to this company and the opportunities that I’ve had. I want to prove they were chances well taken.”


About the Author

Suzanne Koziatek

Suzanne Koziatek

As communications and content writer for WashU Olin Business School, my job is to seek out the people and programs making an impact on the Olin community and the world. Before coming to Olin, I worked in corporate communications, healthcare education and as a journalist at newspapers in Georgia, South Carolina and Michigan.

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