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Catapulting Past Obstacles

November 9, 2023
Savannah Cherry

Overcoming personal, academic, or professional challenges can be difficult. For Savannah Cherry, Director of Marketing for Slingshot, a series of challenges throughout her academic career did not stop her from reaching her goal of earning a bachelor’s degree in marketing. Savannah recently shared more with us about her college experience, including pandemic-related challenges, the positive impact of career networking, and the personal roadblocks she overcame to achieve professional success as Slingshot’s Director of Marketing and New Business.

College of Business: Why did you decide to earn a degree in marketing, and why did you choose UofL’s program?

Savannah Cherry: I’ve always been fascinated with how the mind works, but I knew I didn’t want to go into psychology. After watching my parents start and grow their businesses, I decided to take my love of understanding people and telling stories and turn it into a marketing career. When choosing a program, I did a lot of research and considered various factors. Ultimately, I enrolled in UofL’s program for several reasons. The university had a strong reputation for its business school. I wanted to receive my education from a place with a proven track record of producing successful graduates. Additionally, the location of the university was appealing to me. I wanted to stay close to home while still getting to experience ‘city living.’ I got to go home on weekends if I wanted, but [I could] still stay on campus and grow as a person.

College of Business: What were the most challenging experiences you had to overcome in your program, and how did you overcome those challenges?

Savannah Cherry: Navigating my final semester coincided with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. It presented unique and unexpected challenges that required adaptability and resilience. The sudden transition to remote learning was the most immediate and significant challenge. In-person classes were abruptly shifted to online platforms over spring break, which disrupted my familiar routine. I needed to adapt quickly;  I had to master video conferencing tools, set up a productive home study environment, and adjust to asynchronous learning for some courses. Maintaining focus and motivation during this uncertain time was also a struggle. The pandemic brought about a lot of anxiety and uncertainty, which sometimes made it difficult to concentrate on coursework. To overcome this, I needed to create a structured daily routine that included dedicated study hours and regular breaks. Additionally, the lack of face-to-face interaction with professors and classmates made it harder to ask questions, seek clarification, and build relationships. To bridge this gap, I actively reached out to stay engaged with my peers.

College of Business: What experiences did you enjoy the most at the College of Business?

Savannah Cherry: Firstly, the College of Business career fairs were among the highlights of my academic journey. These were remarkable events where I had the chance to interact with industry-leading companies and explore diverse career opportunities. They provided a platform for students like me to connect with recruiters, gain insights into different company cultures, and even secure internships or full-time positions. I found my summer 2019 internship via Berkshire Hathaway at one. These fairs were not only informative but also allowed me to network with professionals and learn about current job market trends. I particularly enjoyed speaking directly with representatives from companies I admired, which helped me better understand what they were looking for in potential candidates.

Another unforgettable experience was my international business study abroad program in Rome, Italy, during the summer of 2018. Studying at John Cabot University was a transformative experience that broadened my horizons both personally and professionally. It exposed me to a different culture, diverse perspectives, and a global business environment. I not only learned about international business practices but also had the opportunity to apply them in real-world scenarios with Ford Italy. Exploring Rome and traveling around Europe during weekends and breaks made the experience even more enriching. It taught me the importance of adaptability, cross-cultural communication, and the global interconnectedness of business.

College of Business: How did your professional journey lead you to the role of Director of Marketing and New Business for Slingshot?

Savannah Cherry: I have UofL to thank for my current role! Our CEO, David Galownia, contacted Paige Erhart for their Marketing Manager job. He asked if there were any current students seeking marketing degrees with technical experience. My CIS minor set me up perfectly for the role, and Paige sent me the job description. I applied, got asked to interview, and the rest is history!

College of Business: How has working in this role impacted you professionally and helped you grow?

Savannah Cherry: Slingshot focuses heavily on continued learning. Every employee gets time each week to explore new trends, attend workshops or conferences, and earn certifications. In the ever-evolving landscape of business, staying up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies is crucial. Whether it’s mastering new software tools or staying informed about industry-specific changes, I’ve had the resources and encouragement to keep learning. This commitment to ongoing education has not only made me a more proficient professional but has also boosted my confidence in tackling complex challenges.

The supportive culture within my workplace has been instrumental in my growth. The organization places a strong emphasis on collaboration and teamwork. Colleagues are always ready to offer guidance, share insights, and lend a helping hand when needed. This environment of mutual support has not only made the work more enjoyable but has also accelerated my professional development. It’s taught me the value of cooperation and how collective efforts often lead to more innovative solutions.

College of Business: Could you share more about your collaborative AI-related project with Dr. Jeff Guan or any other professional projects you have in the works?

Savannah Cherry: Of course! Dr. Guan is a friend of Slingshot; he taught David when he was in the CIS program. He’s always been very supportive of UofL grads, helping elevate them where he can. Dr. Guan is speaking at our AI event in early November. Stay tuned to our platforms for more info soon!

College of Business: How did you feel about being named a 2023 Inno Under 25 honoree?

Savannah Cherry: It’s such an honor to be placed alongside the other five candidates. There are founders, leaders at major startups, and researchers. There are a lot of amazing people in the Louisville business and startup scene, but the other candidates on the list make me excited for the next generation of leaders.

College of Business: How have you stayed connected to the College of Business since graduation?

Savannah Cherry: I’m currently working with an awesome marketing major at UofL named Daniel via the BUMP mentor program. He’s got a bright future in the field, and it brings me a lot of joy to be able to help him along the way. I was a BUMP mentee when I was at UofL, and I wanted to be able to give back to students who are actively trying to better their careers. I’m currently waiting to find out my 2023 mentee, and I’m very excited!

College of Business: What advice would you give someone considering earning a business-related degree at UofL?

Savannah Cherry: If someone is considering earning a business-related degree at the University of Louisville (UofL) I would offer the following advice based on my own experience:

  • Connect with Faculty: Reach out to professors and instructors within the business school. Building relationships with faculty members can be invaluable. They often have valuable industry experience and can provide guidance on your academic and career path.
  • Utilize Career Services: UofL typically has robust career services and internship programs via the Ulmer Career Management Center. Take advantage of these resources early on to gain practical experience and network with potential employers.
  • Join Student Organizations: Get involved in business-related student organizations and clubs. These groups provide opportunities for networking, leadership development, and hands-on experience. They can also be a great way to make friends who share your interests.
  • Network Actively: Networking is a crucial aspect of the business world. Attend industry events, seminars, and workshops both on and off campus. Connect with alumni and professionals in your field of interest. Networking can open doors to internships and job opportunities.
  • Enjoy the Journey: Finally, remember that your time at UofL is not just about preparing for your career; it’s also a time for personal growth and exploration. Make the most of your college experience, forge lasting friendships, and embrace the opportunities for self-discovery!

College of Business: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Savannah Cherry: I’m neurodiverse, and that greatly impacts your college experience. If you’re neurodivergent, I always suggest finding the ideal daily routine that helps you be productive and focused. Everyone has their own experiences, so you need to find what works best for you. What worked best for me was setting realistic daily and weekly goals, both at home and for school. I understand exactly what I can get done in a day’s work, and don’t push myself beyond that regarding tasks and responsibilities. At home, I give myself time each evening to get productive things done, but also give myself time to relax.

About the UofL College of Business:

Founded in 1953, The UofL College of Business fosters intellectual and economic vitality in our city, region, and the global business landscape. Our academic programs, research, community outreach initiatives, and commitment to student success inspire lives and businesses to flourish through entrepreneurship, innovation, critical thinking, diversity, and the power of people.

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