Sherry A. Essen

Professional Profile:

Diverse 17+ year career in a wide variety of leadership, marketing, strategic planning and consulting roles that require adapting to highly challenging, ever-changing circumstances, projects and people—while consistently delivering impressive results.


“Sherry is extremely energetic, creative and exceptionally hardworking. She possesses outstanding leadership skills, earning a high degree of respect from colleagues for her knowledge, insight and effectiveness. She’s an extraordinary asset to any organization— and a good friend.”


“Thank you…your recommendations and selling points are spot on. I can’t wait to put them to use…you are excellent!”


Leadership + Vision

  • Strong entrepreneurial spirit and bottom-line focus evidenced by 15+ years of persistent revenue growth under my leadership.
  • Highly skilled at pioneering programs from the ground-up and quickly turning a profit. Equally adept at marketing and operational details.
  • Positively manage change and relate well to people from a wide variety of backgrounds, successfully uniting diverse groups around common goals.
  • Consistently identify and communicate positive aspects of initiatives, helping people overcome obstacles and remain focused on results.
  • Excellent strategic planner— from writing plans and facilitating planning sessions to championing progress over time.

Communication + Presentation

  • Energetic champion of people and organizations, managing nearly a dozen direct reports while navigating an extended period of impressive growth.
  • Highly accomplished at communicating complex concepts in accessible language and elevating the ordinary to the extraordinary.
  • Experienced public speaker who has delivered hundreds of presentations to diverse audiences large and small.
  • Seasoned consultative salesperson skilled at communicating memorably at each stage of a sale, which yielded unprecedented results for over 10 years.
  • Keen understanding of brands and how to leverage them to strategically position individuals and companies for quality and growth.
  • Extensive experience telling an organization’s ‘story’ via design and production of high quality marketing materials and interactive tools.

People + Potential

  • Highly skilled at assessing, reorganizing and recruiting talent consistent with organizational goals to build and maintain high performing teams.
  • Keen understanding of what motivates people and teams and leverage knowledge by designing performance evaluation and reward systems that work.
  • Extremely personable and build rapport easily, skills particularly useful when navigating difficult situations.
  • Tireless advocate of “professionalism” and people skills to increase the effectiveness and cache of all organizations.

Career History:

“Sherry is genuine, straightforward, honest, gracious, funny, and generous in spirit. She has outstanding empathy for other individuals and a natural ability to read their needs. People immediately sense her authenticity, which puts them at ease.”


“Sherry is very intelligent and quick to understand a situation and reach decisions. She has a solid business head and is superb at launching new products and systems. A consummate team player and definitely a takecharge leader and change agent.”


Founder, THE SPRINGBOARD GROUP, St. Paul, MN, 2003-present

  • Specialize in executive coaching, communication consulting, group facilitation, and career transitions. Clients include Target Corporation, Xcel Energy, Virchow Krause, KPMG, YWCA, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Houston Engineering, and countless individuals and small businesses.

Senior Consultant, VANDER ZANDEN INC., Minneapolis, MN, 2001-2003

  • Designed curriculum, coached clients and facilitated seminars on leadership,
    influence, presence and presentation for this high-end management consulting firm. Clients included Accenture, Intel, HealthPartners, Guidant, and Target.
  • Repackaged services and developed a gorgeous website that upped the firm’s brand and cache and significantly shortened the sales cycle.
  • Led new business development efforts that increased revenues by 50%+
  • Designed revenue and client-billing tracking systems yielding greater efficiency, better service, and faster payment turnaround.

Director of Human Resources, LARSEN DESIGN + INTERACTIVE, Minneapolis, MN, 2000–01

Established human resources function at a rapidly growing design firm with offices
in Minneapolis and California.

Oversaw all company recruiting, negotiating and hiring efforts, successfully reeling
in countless top-notch creative professionals in an extremely challenging economy.

Established system to track productivity and profitability to provide supportive data
for key hiring decisions.

Initiated firm-wide compensation analysis to maintain competitive in marketplace.

Launched variety of on-site training opportunities to optimize existing talent.

Chief Administrative Officer, COLLEGE OF VISUAL ARTS, St. Paul, MN, 1990–2000 Over a 10-year period, rose through the ranks and served as a driving force for widespread institutional advancement at an art and design college. Positions included:

Vice President of Administration and Student Affairs (99-00)
Interim President (98-99)
Director of Student Affairs (97-99)
Director of Academic and Student Affairs (94-97)
Director of Admissions (90-98)

  • Oversaw all non-curricular functions, including finances and budgeting, facilities and technology, marketing, fundraising, enrollment, accounting and legal affairs.
  • Supervised 10 direct reports and 10 non-direct reports, managed $3 million operating budget, and spearheaded dramatic facilities expansion.
  • Key accomplishments included increasing enrollment by 200% and revenues by 300%, from $700,000 to nearly $3 million; launching a summer kids program which grew 380%, authoring two exhaustive 150+ page self-study reports and navigating the college through a rigorous 5-year process of achieving regional accreditation.


MA, University of Minnesota , Higher education administration & strategic planning
(summa cum laude)

BA, College of St. Catherine, English and philosophy


Click here to download a PDF of Sherry's resume/bio