Cheryl McCants, CEO, Impact Consulting Enterprises

Award-winning bilingual communication professional and business strategist, Cheryl McCants tells the untold stories that make people feel good about where they are, and better about where they are going. She holds degrees and certificates from Boston University, Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, George Washington University, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and Brown University. As a strategist, mentor and speaker, audiences benefit from her unique combination of straight, no-chaser advice, and encouraging words of wisdom. Her awards include Top Woman in Public Relations, a Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneur, and Woman of the Year – Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations. As founder and CEO of Impact Consulting Enterprises, Cheryl’s expertise spans both the private and public sectors.

Recently, in an exclusive interview with CXO Outlook Magazine, Cheryl shared her professional trajectory, the inspiration behind establishing Impact Consulting Enterprises, insights on gender equality and inclusion, personal source of inspiration, future plans, pearls of wisdom, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.

Hi Cheryl. What inspired you to pursue a career in marketing and communications? How did you get your start in this industry?

I’ve always enjoyed telling stories and loved the idea of influencing behaviors and attitudes through compelling messaging. Back in the late 80s, marketing communication was very different from what it is now. It was a fairly new field with lots of opportunity. I explored a variety of seemingly eclectic side hustles and main gigs. I simultaneously bartended in a chic, semi-private club in Manhattan, modeled, hosted a television program, co-hosted a radio talk show, worked for a Fortune 100 company, interned and worked as a news producer, reporter, and assignment desk editor all within a few years after completing my undergraduate studies at Brown University.

I started my professional career in sales and worked my way over to the marketing side of the house. After entering corporate America, I completed graduate studies at George Washington University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. That’s when I discovered that there was a place for journalism in corporate America – public relations, marketing, and communication. The ability to apply my journalistic background to my work inspired me.

What was the inspiration behind establishing Impact Consulting Enterprises? What is its mission and vision?

The idea of cultivating my personal passion into a sustainable business fascinated me. It thrilled me to know that I could investigate people’s motivations, maintain my integrity and ethical values, and tell stories that mattered. This passion birthed Impact Consulting Enterprises. Impact is a marketing communication agency that tells award-winning stories to inspire smiles, trust, and confidence.

With a mission to turn communication into a catalyst for tangible, positive outcomes by aligning our strategies with our clients’ goals, we strive to elevate their impact and respectfully and effectively connect brands with diverse audiences.

Our vision is to actively engage in creating a future where every organization, regardless of size or sector, harnesses the power of strategic communication to foster a more informed, inclusive, and inspired world. A world where diversity is not just acknowledged but celebrated as a source of strength and innovation.

How do you approach the ever-changing landscape of digital marketing and emerging technologies such as AI?

We pride ourselves on being early adopters. I personally participated in the launch of the “information superhighway,” commonly known as the internet. As a company, we recognize the importance of integrating AI, generative AI and machine learning into our work products and processes. The key to technological innovation, however, is to incorporate the good and weed out the bad. In other words, human in the middle as well as at the beginning and end is necessary to ensure integrity and maintain ethical standards. The landscape may change, but the foundation remains the same.

What metrics do you measure to gauge the effectiveness of your marketing investments?

I look at revenue growth when measuring the ROI of our marketing investments. While website visits, social media engagement, and email marketing campaign activities among other standard KPIs matter, it’s the contract close ratio that counts.

What, in your view, should leaders in B2B be doing more to drive core business value through marketing efforts?

B2B leaders should hire Impact to help them strategically and intentionally drive business growth. Seriously though, leaders should review their core values, and refine their mission and vision statements to ensure alignment with their customers’ principles. Marketing efforts that reinforce authentic company values tend to transcend hype and connect with customers.

What are your thoughts on gender equality and inclusion? Do you think there is a gender bias in your industry?

Until women-owned businesses and more specifically, Black-women-owned businesses achieve revenue parity, gender and racial bias exists. Contracts, both public and private, continue to be awarded disproportionately to non-women-owned agencies.

Is there a particular person you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are?

My original inspiration to become an entrepreneur came from fellow female entrepreneur, Deborah Watring, co-founder of Watring & Associates. I met Deb and her partner in the late 80s and she encouraged me to start my own business. I am grateful not only for her guidance but also for the business opportunities that she provided. I took a two-week vacation from my job and never looked back. Thank you, Deb.

What does the term “authentic leadership” mean to you?

Authentic leadership means being your true self when guiding your team, hiring, firing, and working with clients. An authentic leader recognizes how her/his/their work style impacts others and adjusts it to support team members. Authentic leaders are responsible for the systems we create, including all policies, procedures and processes. Authentic leaders do not have to be experts; we just have to lead.

What are some of your passions outside of work? What do you like to do in your time off?

In my time off, I like to garden and explore nature. I grow vegetables because I promised myself that I would do everything in my power to never be hungry again. I also find peace and solace in streams and oceans as I revere the cleansing and healing powers of the sea.

What is your biggest goal? Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?

I seek to create generational wealth for my family and my team members’ families. Five years from now, I envision a global client base and workforce where my team and my clients all thrive equitably and honourably.

What advice would you give to somebody who is considering entering the field of marketing and communications or has just entered the field?

The advice that I would give to somebody who’s looking to start in the marketing and communications field or just started would be:

  • Be a continuous learner.
  • Second, Remain tenacious.
  • Third, you must care.
  • Then finally, be yourself.

You can find work anywhere, but it’s the people and the relationships you establish in the process of work that make all the difference. When we are committed to learning about each other, operating with integrity and truly caring about the outcome, we can build supportive and productive communities.

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