Cheri DeMong Hubbard recently joined VSA Partners as Chief Operating Officer. Previous to joining VSA, Hubbard served as COO and CMO of Benefitdecisions; directed marketing strategy for LaSalle Bank; served as CMO for the small business division within CNA, the insurance carrier; worked as a business strategy consultant for Mercer Consulting; and ran an e-commerce unit within GE. She is also on the service board of the Children’s Hospital and the board of Ravinia Associates in Chicago.
“I studied art history and finance in college,” Hubbard began, “and went into investment banking, then business school, and then strategy consulting, where I found ‘growth projects’ to be the most interesting and challenging. The projects I loved focused on customers and products including marketing strategy, segmentation, corporate strategy and the disciplines around how you grow profitably. The analytical evaluation—behind deciding what to sell, how you’d want to sell something, who would buy it, at what price and what the data tells you is the truth about how and why people buy—is fascinating and an exciting challenge.”
Hubbard’s diverse experiences bring to VSA an opportunity to look externally and internally at a growing organization. “It’s about creating the right processes that are efficient and not painful, getting the right people in place, and supporting them with the right tools to drive and support growth.” Having been a consultant and had experiences in changing industries, “it’s amazing to me how professional services companies work, and how support and structure allows them to be efficient. In areas like HR management, that means things like having the right career plans and review cycles, and being able to grow a really outstanding workforce. It’s about building a learning organization that supports the work we do.” The big question—what’s the right level of process and structure for an organization?—comes in the form of finding the right balance, and addressing the pain points that affect the people doing the work—while not changing things that aren’t broken.
“What attracted me to VSA was truly the quality of the work and the caliber of the people. VSA is a company that’s growing, that does really excellent work with smart people,” Hubbard continued. “When I had an introductory meeting with Dana [Arnett], he presented a clear vision and value of people. It was obvious how committed he was to creating and maintaining a positive culture. I was impressed with the way he described the company he was building. It was an opportunity to make a significant positive impact and come into an interesting and exciting challenge.”
With Hubbard’s strong marketing and strategy background, this role supports her passion for growing organizations and developing people, processes and tools that support growth. Or in her words: “VSA is a great marriage of an industry I care about and a functional area I’m passionate about.”