28 Dec Board Member Spotlight: Cheryl Perez

Cheryl Perez- PCBC Board of Trustee’s Spotlight

“Good things happen to people who do good.”

Cheryl Perez is a member of the Presidents’ Council Business Chamber, Board of Trustee’s member and the Chair of the Programming Committee. Cheryl is the President and Managing Partner of Benefit Innovations Group, a full service HR Consulting firm focused on providing cost effective benefit solutions and HR consulting services to businesses and seniors.  Wearing many hats, Cheryl is a business woman, a philanthropist, a sister, daughter, an aunt and a mentor.

Originally from Youngstown, Ohio, Cheryl attended Ohio University, where she received her B.S. in Communication and Business in 1996 (cum laude) and her M.A. in International Business and Communications in 1997.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your business.

A: My business is growing. We went through a period of transition a few years ago. We were faced with some changes in legislation directly related to the Affordable Care Act and forced to shift our business a little bit. While a lot of people were fearful of that change, we chose to pivot and offer new services that would benefit our clients. We became a healthcare certified industry and branched into compliance, particularly as it relates to HR and benefits. Now we sit here about three years later having moved from a primarily benefits insurance related firm, to having over 60% of our business coming from HR consulting and compliance.

Q: Why did you decide to join the Board of Trustee’s for The Presidents’ Council?

A: One of my personal passions is nonprofit work. Upon completing college, I worked overseas across Africa doing nonprofit organizational capacity building. My first few jobs upon returning home were in nonprofit development, outreach and fundraising. Eventually, while building my own business, I got away from that work and doing things that I knew made me happy outside of my business. I decided that I wanted to utilize my skills and get back into nonprofits to help people not only grow their organizations, but also their boards and capacity. I truly believe that the nonprofit community is essential to the success of the overall business community; it provides a sort of checks and balances.

I also wanted to get more involved with the African American community in Cleveland since I am not originally from here.

Q: As a Board Member, what would you like to see The Council work on in the future and how could you assist with that?

A: As the Chair of the Programming Committee, I am closely tied to the two flagship programs. I am a graduate of the Emerging Entrepreneurs Program and I know that the impact that this program has on African-American owned businesses is critical. I work with, and have a lot of friends who have the goal of being an entrepreneur and sometimes the most difficult piece for us is overcoming that hump. African Americans are natural entrepreneurs, but often times we don’t know how to move towards growth and establishing stable businesses that are a viable contribution to our community by hiring staff and providing jobs. Emerging Entrepreneurs is critical in bridging that gap. The Presidents’ Council and Chamber provides the necessary examples to show solopreneurs how to make that transition. And then the PC Scholars Program shows our young people that it is possible to work for themselves and become their own boss someday. To become an entrepreneur you have to get that book knowledge initially and move beyond that. Both are amazing and essential programs.

It’s also essential that we make our businesses work for our children and our grandchildren.  I was recently asked what my succession idea is for my business. Would it be to grow fast and sell, or to grow slowly overtime and leave my business for my family to come in and take it to the next level? I was initially nervous but decided, I’ve got 6 children, so this really is about them. Whether it be that they work for their family owned business for the long term or for a short amount of time to gain skills and knowledge and take that out into other businesses or industries, I want to ensure that this is a stop for them. So that’s my succession plan and my vision for the programs of The Presidents’ Council.

Q: How do you spend your time outside of business or being a part of nonprofit boards?

A: I love shopping and spending time with my kids. I watch a lot of HGTV to get ideas on how to decorate my home. One of my most favorite things to do is mentor other Black women. I have a lot of friends who may have worked for a company for several years but want to start their own businesses now. They are fearful, which is understandable, but I am happy to have the tools to help them take that jump and to show them that it is possible.  I’ve also recently gotten started with creating a minority alumni council and mentoring program at my high school. I went back for a career day recently and started a few other initiatives.

Q: What’s your retirement plan?

A: I want to purchase a resort on an island and live there and run it. How wonderful would it be to be on vacation all the time?! I would also really enjoy doing motivational speaking, specifically for women business owners and young girls.