Alumna balances career, community and education to earn professional success

Alumna balances career, community and education to earn professional success

Cheryl Boodram standing in front of a desk at Chief Financial Credit Union
Cheryl Boodram, MKT '17, leads her organization in helping others.

Cheryl (Bartlebaugh) Boodram, MKT ’17, focuses on the future. As vice president of sales and marketing for Chief Financial Credit Union, she prides herself on developing innovative products that help her customers and community. 

It’s that commitment that motivated Boodram to return to college after a decade away from school. “When I graduated from high school, I had friends who were ready for college,” she says. “I needed to get out in the business world and discover my passion.” 

Her discovery process included several years in restaurant management before moving into finance as part-time teller at Chief Financial Credit Union. Here, her service industry experience, community awareness, work ethic and talent fueled her advancement. Her career flourished as she quickly rose through the ranks, leading the firm’s indirect lending program then developing the organization’s sales and marketing department. 

With confidence in her professional direction, the time was right for Boodram to earn her undergraduate degree. “Once I started my first semester at Oakland University, I just knew it was the right thing for me,” she says. “I really fell in love with learning.” 

Her business courses meshed seamlessly with her career goals. “I was so blessed I could take Sustainability, Marketing and Management, and Social Entrepreneurship early on,” she says. “Chief Financial has folded social responsibility into its culture, so I put what I learned in those classes to use immediately.” 

A leader in helping others 

Chief Financial’s mission to be “more than money” by inspiring strategic partnerships to change lives fit naturally with Boodram’s personal and professional desire to take giving back to the next level. 

In 2015 Boodram created Chief Financial’s iCare program to incentivize its dealership partners to donate to partnering community nonprofits. From 2015-16, iCare alone raised more than $100,000 for community nonprofit organizations. In 2016, Boodram developed the Share the Rewards program to allow Chief Financial members to earn donations for community partners by making everyday purchases. These rewards continue to grow and have exceeded initial projections.

“I believe we are all here with the purpose to help others; it is how we are meant to achieve that purpose that is ours to discover,” Boodram says. “I measure my success by the positive impact I have on my community, family and team.” 

The Oakland County community recognized Boodram for her commitment to meshing good business with doing good work for others when it welcomed her to its 2018 class of Elite 40 Under 40.

Worth the challenge 

Juggling career, family and school wasn’t easy, but Boodram’s desire to earn her degree far outweighed the tempting thoughts she had about quitting. Her determination coupled with the inspirational discussions she had with classmates and professors kept her motivated. 

“Discussing real-world applications of classroom concepts with Oakland business professors was one of the best parts of my experience,” she says.

While she admits to sometimes feeling the age difference, Boodram appreciated her classmates’ youthful enthusiasm as well as their kindness in helping her get the hang of seemingly small things like Google Docs. “My classmates reminded me what the world looks like when you don’t think of limitations first,” she says.

Strong backing from her colleagues and leadership at Chief Financial also kept her going. “My CEO, who traveled a similar educational path, was unfailingly supportive,” she says. 

“I’m going to keep aiming high and seeking out innovation. My motto is: I didn’t come this far, to only come this far.” 

Invigorated by her success and living her motto, Boodram plans to begin her MBA at Oakland University this fall.