Cheryl Spruill

Cheryl Spruill
Vice president, Risk Management, Prudential Financial

Who inspires you? What did they motivate you to achieve or accomplish?

There are so many people who have been great motivators for me, but I’m inspired by people who are bold and fearless enough to make tough choices that may eliminate some of what they like in order to do more of what they love.

For example, one of my mentors helped motivate me to better manage the juggle between work and home. As a full-time working mom, home and work priorities can sometimes be overwhelming to manage. At one point, I recall struggling between attending an important standing meeting and a pretty significant personal event. I asked my mentor about the long view on choices like this one, since she had been so successful at work. She shared that when she gave her children a scorecard to rate her performance at home her children graded her with straight Fs, based on events she’d missed and more important, time not spent. My mentor quit her job and found a new role that allowed her to be the kind of parent she wanted to be. While I haven’t done anything so drastic, her story has definitely helped me better identify what’s rubber and what’s glass when I’m feeling like I’m juggling too many things at once. I’ve been much more and better focused on what matters most, and that’s helped center me, both at home and in the office.

How do you give back to the African American community?

Time is a precious commodity, which is why volunteering is important to me. I give my time through community service activities geared toward children, through my Jack and Jill chapter, and through Calibr, an affiliate network of the Executive Leadership Council.

Yet, I believe I’m at my best with young people who are on the cusp of building and planning for their futures. I really enjoy college students and recent graduates; they are just at the beginning of their careers and are so eager. It’s important to me that these young people are exposed to as many choices and options as possible. I share lessons I’ve learned through my career, especially the tough ones from my missteps and failures. I want students to be armed with the knowledge to ask the right questions and make informed career choices. I want them to see someone who looks like them, and is successful—and to understand that it’s not an anomaly, but an achievable reality. It’s the kind of exposure I wish I had when I was a student, and early in my career.

What advice would you give to someone just beginning his or her career?

Make the most of every opportunity provided to you. Even if what you are doing is not ultimately where you want to end, allow yourself to appreciate the learning opportunities that every role brings. Also, allow yourself to fail, but always learn from it. Your failures can be your best teachers. Recognize your strengths; no one can take those from you. And, last, enjoy the ride; it goes fast.

What is your favorite quote, and why?

“What a wonderful life I’ve had; I only wish I’d realized it sooner.” – Colette

These wise words hang in my office on a poster that I received years ago from Women Unlimited, where I also volunteer as a mentor. I read them daily.

This one resonates with me because I’m always so busy thinking about the next thing, that I often forget to live in the moment. I’m very “planful,” and while it has served my career well, it is sometimes also my curse. I often find it difficult to focus on my current experience because my mind is already on to the next thing. Colette’s wise words help to remind me to bask in the situation at hand and enjoy where I am. Circumstances change so quickly; don’t let life pass you by because you are too busy planning for the next moment.