Executive edge: Sherry Ray

In the 1970s and 1980s, Sherry Ray ran operational divisions of Fortune 1,000 companies. Through the early-mid 1990s, she was a leading sales professional at now-defunct Pilot Research in Denver, until a chance meeting in a grocery store parking lot, when the self-proclaimed “energizer bunny” was convinced to make the professional pivot to business coach and acquired the necessary training to open Denver-based Ray Consulting Services in 1995.

She is the author of Finding Traction: Recapture Your Drive at Work, which applies her experiences in corporate America to other professional playing fields.

Q. A Gallup poll revealed that only 29 percent of Americans are engaged in their work. How do you help people re-engage?

A. I find out where they are stuck, why they are unhappy.  I encourage them to go to the people they are frustrated with and have a conversation. 

Q. What happens in a coaching session?

A. I’m there to ask the questions to expand your thought process. 

I’m the curious 2-year-old who asks all the questions: What would this look like? Have you ever thought about that? What else would be possible?

Q. You’ve acquired a pretty impressive client list over the years, largely by word-of-mouth. Who are some of your clients?

A. I work with a lot of individuals and have several corporate clients. I work with some Broncos alumni. I was the speaker for two years for the Broncos alumni gathering and have been their official business life coach for several years. We talk about what’s next in their careers.

Q. What sets you apart from the pack?

A. I’ve had so many life experiences and business experiences, and I’ve had people come to me saying that they’ve been looking for a business coach for years, but they couldn’t find one who actually had business experience. I didn’t realize that made me unique at the time. Because I had such a diverse business background, it helps me know the questions to ask.

Q. Your husband, Gordon Carpenter, a financial planner, raced cars and encouraged you to get involved with the ladies group who raced cars in Pueblo. What did you like about racing cars for 12 years?

A. I loved the excitement, the energy, the camaraderie, the challenge … and the car!

Q. How does your book apply racing to business?

A. The book starts out with me going 130 miles per hour toward turn one when I pulled the steering wheel off in my hands. How ready are you for change? That’s corporate America. That’s business. All of sudden your company’s been purchased, you have a new manager, a new teammate. Whatever it is, you have to know how to evaluate the situation in a moment’s time and react differently than you probably have in the past.

Q. Where are you originally from?

A. I’m a farm girl from Indiana. I grew up on a thousand-acre farm as an only child. We had beef cattle, corn, soybeans, wheat and hay. My college education was paid for by selling walnut trees to furniture companies. My first job was de-tasseling corn on the farm.

Q. What appealed to you about sales?

A. My freedom. It was always about helping people and had to be something that I believed in or I couldn’t do it.

Q. You turn 60 this summer. How will you mark the occasion?

A. I’ll start training for another half-marathon. I’m very active. I run, ride my bike, lift weights, sing, kickbox. I love being physically active. We just learned to paddle-board in Hawaii.

Q. Why did you write a book?

A. My clients have been asking me to write a book for 10 years. They wanted something to go to when I wasn’t available by phone to give them tips on how to handle situations