International Engineering Program

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17th Annual Colloquium: Keynote Speaker


Cheryl Merchant

President/CEO, Hope Global

Cheryl Merchant has been in automotive manufacturing for nearly 30 years. She began as a production supervisor at General Motors and quickly advanced her career working at Mazda, Ford Motor Co. and then at the Lear Corporation. She climbed through the ranks in various departments until 1990 when she became the Plant Manager of a 3,500 employee operation in Mexico making automotive seat covers at a rate of 20,000 vehicles per week. In addition to Mexico, Cheryl has also managed manufacturing plants in Canada, Poland, England, and in various locations in the US. She has dealt with operation start-ups, shutdowns, mergers, and relocations, as well as multiple company acquisitions, and with more products than is possible to list.

For the last 15 years, Cheryl has been the President/CEO of Hope Global with manufacturing and headquarters located in Cumberland, RI. During that time, the company’s name has changed from Hope Webbing to Hope Global, Engineered Textile Solutions, has grown in revenue by 3x, and has expanded its operations with plants now in Rhode Island, Mexico, Czech Republic and China.

Through two major floods and the past years of global economic struggle, Hope has streamlined its operations and organizational structure to survive and become even stronger. Cheryl is an active member, and a past-chair, of the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce. She is also a member of the Providence Chamber of Commerce, RI Commodores, and a Trustee of RIPEC. In addition, she has chaired or co-chaired the Bryant World Trade Day event for the past 3 years and is co-chair for 2015’s event as well. In 2012, Cheryl received an Honorary Doctorate Degree of Business from Bryant University and joined the Alumni of Bryant where she actively holds a seat on the Board of Trustees. In 2014, she received awards for New England Businesswoman of the year and PBN Top Leadership of RI. New England Institute of Technology awarded her an Honorary Doctorate in Human Letters as well. She sat on the Governor’s Economic Development Council for 5 years and now sits on the Governor’s Workforce Board. Cheryl resides in Lincoln and integrates her business life with being a wife and the mother of an 8 year-old, ambitious boy and a 5 year-old, power-hungry daughter.

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