An impactful healthcare career

UF MBA alumnus Graham Cherrington's UF MBA experience helped him influence the healthcare industry

When Graham Cherrington graduated with his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois in 1984, he faced a tough choice – try to enter a down job market or pursue his MBA. Earning an MBA was always part of his plan, but he initially saw that happening through a weekend program later in his career.

Instead, a strong GMAT score and a worsening job market pushed him to pursue his MBA. Once the decision was made, there wasn’t much doubt about where he would pursue it.

Gainesville, Fla.

Cherrington’s dad moved the family to Gainesville in 1979 after he became chairman of the University of Florida Electrical Engineering Department. Cherrington lived one year in Gainesville before moving back up north to attend the University of Illinois, but he was excited to return to get his MBA.

“I knew it was a good MBA program, and it made sense for me at the time to go to graduate school,” Cherrington said. “I always thought I would do a weekend MBA program, but the two-year, full-time program was really good.”

Today, Cherrington is the President and CEO of Medway Air Ambulance. The road there has been full of twists and turns since graduating from UF MBA.

After graduating in 1986, Cherrington took a job with Anderson Consulting and spent five years in their Chicago office. He knew he wanted to be a CEO, so he switched gears to a job with Kentucky Fried Chicken in Louisville that would put him on that track. Two years later, he followed some KFC co-workers to a worker’s compensation insurance company in Sarasota, Fla. It was an opportunity to grow the business, but it was also his introduction to the healthcare industry.

“I’m like a lot of people who think they know what they want to do when they get out of school, but when you start working, things end up changing,” Cherrington said of working in healthcare.

After the company was sold four years later, Cherrington moved to Atlanta to work with Matria Healthcare. Later, it was on to a role as COO of NovaMed, where the company prioritized outpatient surgery. They created surgery spaces outside of hospitals to make it easier on the patient and save space in the hospitals. That specialty turned into an increased focus on the urgent care business in roles such as COO of Urgent Team and COO of Adeptus Health, a freestanding emergency room company.

Working for NovaMed and Adeptus provided two memorable moments for Cherrington. He was able to be part of the NovaMed management team that rang NASDAQ’s closing bell and later was part of the team who rang the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange after Adeptus’ IPO.

From there, it was on to his current role of President and CEO of Medway Air Ambulance. The company owns 10 passenger jets, and each one has a stretcher and room for a nurse plus two family members. The company specializes in transporting seriously ill patients from one level of care to another through the Americas and the Caribbean.

“The healthcare system in the United States is a huge economy in itself,” Cherrington said. “We are seeing baby boomers come through the healthcare system in their second half of life, and there’s an overwhelming need. It’s also an ecosystem where technology has made a huge impact on delivery and our ability to save lives. The advances in every aspect are incredible. From the early 2000s to now, it has been incredible to see the impacts technology is having.”

Cherrington has two children that are following in his footsteps as Gators. His daughter, Sydney, is a junior architecture major at UF. His son, Blake, is a freshman at the UF Innovation Academy.

But he’ll never forget his time on the UF campus as a student and how it jumpstarted his impactful career on the healthcare industry.

“The caliber of students was amazing, and there was so much faculty interaction,” Cherrington said. “They were truly making you better and taking you to the next level.”