Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.
My name is Cheri Derryberry and after many successful years in corporate America, I decided I wanted to leave a legacy. My passion for the last 10 years has been to help women who are in under-served communities empower themselves to become more and to be an example for other women who don't believe they can make a difference for their families. My husband and I started a commercial cleaning company and we help all kinds of people learn business skills so they can be successful. We have created systems that are color coded so if you don't know the language, it doesn't matter. We teach business classes and we consider all of our staff to be our "extended family." This has not been an easy path, but the rewards are worth it. We have a woman who was a house cleaner and is now sending her children to college. How exciting is that?
How would you define your professional mission?
Our mission is to help underserved communities learn entrepreneurship skills to achieve financial freedom and be successful.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
Don't ever give up! Even if you don't understand the culture or language, keep going on. You will overcome the differences. Some days are more difficult, but if you believe in your mission, you will keep pushing forward.
What is one of your most memorable career accomplishments?
When I was in corporate, being promoted to COO was a huge accomplishment. But, that wasn't going to leave a legacy.
What are some career challenges on your radar?
One of my challenges is to hold people accountable. When you have a mission like ours, you tend to be very forgiving and understanding. But there are times when you have to be tough and teach people things no one has ever taken the time to teach them. They won't be happy, but in the long run, it's in their best interest.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
As a company, we view our workers as our extended family and we send them happy birthday cards and anniversary cards. We have had several workers come into our office and say no one has ever treated them fairly. They come from countries where they don't trust anyone in authority. That brings tears to my eyes and tells me we are building trust in the marketplace.
What legacy do you hope to leave through your work?
I want to see women from other countries who are successful and have created a safe place for their families. We are also starting to work with veterans and spouses of veterans who don't have any other options. That makes me super grateful that we can do this for them.
Who are your role models?
My mother, who came from a very poor background and went on to get two Master's degrees. She worked for the State of Washington as a social worker and worked with Native American families and their children. She also fought cancer 10 times before passing away.
What does success look like to you?
Making a difference in people's lives and seeing them be successful.
Is work-life balance a problem for you? What is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
This is a very difficult question for me. This is one I'm learning over and over. I tend to work all the time but that is not good or healthy. When you have children at home, you have to take a break. But when they all leave, you think you need to be doing something all the time. My tactic is to take my phone and lock it up for one hour.
What is the best career advice you ever received?
Since I've been working for a very long time, be willing to do things you have never thought about before. Don't stop learning and reading books.
Tell us about your favorite Ellevate Network memory or success story. Why are you a member?
My favorite memory of Ellevate was our last Amazing Women luncheon. We had a panel of women who are not actively involved in women's professional groups and we discussed how to overcome distrust in the market place and bring back civility. After the last election, we've seen so many examples of things you never wanted to see. But if we are women talking and working together, we can set an example for civility. Even if we disagree about politics, we can still work together and bring different viewpoints to the marketplace.