Kansas City Businesswoman to Speak at Commencement

A Kansas City businesswoman known for her innovative style will be the spring commencement speaker for William Woods University. Cheryl Womack, president and chief executive officer of the Star Group, VCW Holding Company and other business interests in Kansas City, Mo., will address the university’s second largest class ever.

A total of 236 students will graduate from William Woods during its 133rd spring commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 10, in Cutlip Auditorium of the McNutt Campus Center.

With increased campus enrollment and the growth of the university’s Graduate & Adult Studies program, William Woods now holds three graduation ceremonies each year. The combined total of graduates since last May is 669.

The commencement speaker, Womack, began her first business in the basement of her home in 1981. At the time, she focused on being successful in the business world, not realizing that she was entering into two male dominated fields—trucking and insurance.

During the past 22 years, Womack and VCW, Inc. became known industry wide for innovative product development. She was also known for her innovative corporate culture and industry leadership for independent truckers.

She is often referred to as a role model by management guru Tom Peters, who references her and her business style in his seminars and his book, “Crazy Times Call for Crazy Organizations.” He suggests that others follow her lead and “look for passion, flexibility and excitement” when hiring people.

On-site day care, home-cooked meals for $3 a day, $1,000 rewards for good suggestions, profit-sharing, a beautiful work setting and flexible health and dental plans are just some of the benefits Womack provides her employees, keeping the turnover rate low.

Womack has received awards and accolades in recognition of her accomplishments and has garnered the attention of many national publications. She has been profiled in Forbes, Success, and USA Today, among others.

At the time she sold four of her businesses in 2002, her Kansas City-based operation employed more then 80 people and insured more then 12,000 independent truckers throughout the United States and Canada.

Womack’s time is now spent managing a number of business interests, including directing a new business she founded to partner with and provide consulting, administrative and accounting services for growth businesses of all types.

She also owns and leads an organization that is dedicated to identifying and honoring The Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World™. This newly formed not for profit recognizes outstanding women business owners world wide, and provides annual business grants and student scholarships.

Womack has a history of generous support, and enjoys mentoring budding young entrepreneurs. She is a member of the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government Women’s Leadership Board, The Committee of 200 (a group of women who own or run some of America’s largest businesses) and the University of Kansas School of Business Board of Advisors.

She also is a Founding Member for the Institute for Entrepreneurship & Business Ventures at KU. She is a Founding Member of the Entrepreneurs Exchange and currently serves on its board of directors. She additionally serves on a number of other civic boards and fund-raisers within the community.

Following Womack’s commencement remarks, William Woods will grant one associate of applied science in paralegal studies, 87 bachelor of science degrees, 12 bachelor of arts, four bachelor of social work, 28 master of business administration and 104 master of education.

Prior to commencement, William Woods will hold its traditional Ivy Chain Ceremony and hooding of graduate students at 9 a.m. around Senior Lake.