2020 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Sherri Wade, University of Georgia (Terry)

Sherri Wade

University of Georgia, Terry College of Business

“I’m a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and aunt who loves to help others achieve goals.”

Age: 50

Hometown:  Trenton, New Jersey

Family Members:

Husband – Joel, 2 Children – Zion & Zayden, and 2 Labradoodles – Zhuri and Zander

Fun fact about yourself: I have a deep passion for photography, specifically portraits and photographs of people, and would love to be a professional photographer one day. I’ve taken photography courses and utilized my kids as subjects to refine my skills.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Howard University, BBA in Insurance with a concentration in Actuarial Science

Where are you currently working: State Farm®; Vice President Operations – Underwriting

Extracurricular Activities and Community Work: Outside of photography, I enjoy reading, indoor-cycling on my Peloton Bike, and spending time with my family. I’m also a member of Jack and Jill of America Inc., which is an organization of mothers dedicated to nurturing future African-American leaders through leadership development, volunteer service, philanthropic giving, and civic duty. I am a mentor to many inside and outside of the State Farm family. I engage in Girls Who Code as a mentor. It’s an organization that aims to support and increase the number of women in computer science by equipping young women with necessary computing skills. As a mother, I enjoy engaging in volunteer opportunities as a band mother.  

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I’m a firm believer that true leadership is about making stars versus becoming one, so I consider the biggest achievement in my professional career to be the professional development of others. I have contributed to the success of leaders throughout my career. I’ve also had the opportunity to be at the forefront of some progressive innovation and technology initiatives for State Farm. This work has taught me the importance of holistic enterprise alignment and required me to traverse uncharted territory in order to develop a path forward for those who come behind me.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? I chose the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia because of the reputation of the school and its faculty. I wanted to be challenged, and have the ability to connect with and learn from other leaders with different perspectives. However, it was also important to select a program that provided the support I needed while balancing life, education, and work.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I enjoyed the candid classroom conversations with my teams, cohort, and professors the most. Hearing their unique experiences and different perspectives challenged me, added value to my own learning experience and made me think about leadership differently. Our group was diverse. Their various experiences allowed me to see different perspectives and determine what that could potentially mean to my leadership. They all provided insights and learnings I can continue to apply and share throughout my career.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? The biggest lesson I’ve gained during my MBA program is that learning is a continuous process. At times, our jobs can be very internally-focused. When you have been with a company for a long time, you start to view leadership through a limited lens. I learned the importance of finding ways to stay current on what’s happening externally – outside of the work I see and do daily – and how critical that is to my growth as a leader.

Going forward, I’ll be intentional about expanding my external acumen by continuing to study external trends, staying connected to people in other industries, and ensuring that I continue to add the type of value to my organization that would also be viable outside my organization.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program?

  1. Have a structured approach to achieving school/life balance. When you consistently allocate a certain time to spend on schoolwork, you stay ahead of the curve, and subsequently have more flexibility with critical priorities like family and career. To quote Florynce Kennedy, “Don’t agonize, organize.”
  2. Be all in. Whether you’re working on schoolwork, professional work, or enjoying your family, bring your full self and all your attention to that moment. Not doing so may mean you miss the opportunity to grow in any given area.
  3. Approach this experience with an open mind, and leverage the background and talents of your business school peers. This allowed me to take advantage of every opportunity to learn, change, and grow.
  4. Have fun!

What was your biggest regret in business school?  I regret not spending more time with my team members/cohort outside of class. There is always value in nurturing the individual relationships of those you work closely with. We did get some time to make personal connections towards the end of our program when we traveled abroad, and that prompted me to think about all the other missed opportunities to connect prior to that moment.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate long-term professional goal is to assist in the growth of as many people as possible and maintain a continuous learner status for myself. I also want to ensure that the work I do today contributes to the continued success of any organization I’m affiliated with long after I’m gone. I hope to leave a legacy of compassion, forward-thinking, and collaboration. To quote Shirley Chisholm, “Service is the rent you pay for room on this earth.”

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like my peers to remember my inclusivity and engagement – I wanted every team member to feel valued and have the opportunity to incorporate their talents and backgrounds into developing the best work product.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  1. Getting my EMBA is a box I can now check off my list!
  2. Traveling to Africa is also on the list. I made arrangements to do so this year, but COVID-19 had other plans, so I look forward to fulfilling that dream in the future.

What made Sherri such an invaluable addition to the class of 2020?

“Sherri Wade is one of the most driven, intelligent, and inspiring individuals I have had the pleasure to teach. She leads with confidence and compassion. I have never met someone so forward-thinking and driven by the desire to lift others up and develop the next level of talent. She listens and draws out the best in others. She has put all of these wonderful qualities to good work as Vice President of Operations in Underwriting at State Farm and in her volunteer activities as a mentor to women in computer science, her home life, and the classroom. Sherri inspires and encourages her colleagues to produce fantastic results. Her leadership emphasizes strong communication and analytic abilities paired with positivity that is contagious, and that results in thoughtful and impactful solutions to challenges and problems. She proved to be an invaluable asset to her classmates.”

Marie S. Mitchell
Professor of Management


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