Sheryle Gillihan was born in the Philippines and spent several of her formative years in the US and in Turkey. Being a military brat was sometimes a difficult life- but one that she credits with the shaping of her values, her calling and eventually with the position of CEO and Co-Owner of CauseLabs she holds to this day. Sheryle spends some time in this episode talking about her background, the surprises she’s weathered as a mother, entrepreneur and leader and how she stays grounded when the unexpected hits.
A Global Background
Sheryle remembers not having indoor plumbing and her mother selling bananas to make a living in the Philippines until her father, who was in the Air Force, returned from Korea when she was two and half. As a child she was sponsored by the Pearl S. Buck foundation to help supply medical care and food. “ You don’t know that you’re poor when everyone around you is poor,” she told us, “I didn’t fully grasp the scope of it until my 30s.” From ages 6-10 she lived in the US until he father was stationed in Turkey. The transition was a considerable culture shock for a pre-teen but she came to appreciate the culture, the traditions and the different religions represented there. She goes into detail in this episode of how it broadened her world view from her insular, military base perspective. It would be this experience that would propel Sheryle into an unexpected career path.
A New Direction
During Sheryle’s senior year in college, she felt pretty directionless. She knew she had passion for design and the arts, but didn’t know what to do with it. One night, she saw a commercial for a need for translators in the military. As a multi-lingual person, she took it as a sign and signed up. Thus began her military career- one that she had thought she would see through to the end. Until she became pregnant, that is. Faced with the decision of having to leave her newborn baby for six months or to take a risk and leave a career and the security of the military to raise a family, she chose the latter. She explains to us, sometimes through tears, what a difficult choice that was; but ultimately what led to where she is today.
When Sheryle’s daughters were both of school age, their family experienced another shift. She found herself in need of looking for full time work after a seven year career gap- something, she told us, she wishes there were more resources for. It was a challenging time to find something that wasn’t entry level, but she eventually found employment and worked herself up the ladder to a VP position in a company. “Financially we were great, but emotionally I was not great,” she said. The job was supporting her family, but not feeding her own goals or values. She needed to find something sustainable that would work for both her and her family. Enter, CauseLabs. Her husband Michael stumbled upon an ad for a position that he thought would be a perfect fit for her. He was right. Sheryle started her career at CauseLabs working with a scripture translation company and project management to build the tools to translate the Bible into languages that it hadn’t been translated before. From there, she worked her way up from marketing to sales to CEO and eventually Co-Owner of CauseLabs; a company dedicated to building a positive impact through customizing websites and applications that grow organizations. Sheryle is the perfect example of how staying true to yourself yields the best results.
There’s no way around how inspirational Sheryle’s story is. If you’d like to hear more about how she transitioned out of a military career, how she weathered an IRS Audit just after becoming CEO and how CauseLabs survived the pandemic years, listen to the full episode.