Success & Impact

Xavier Creative House CEO Sunny White ’09 (MBA) Pays it Forward to Future Leaders

With accolades like “Most Admired CEO” and a spot on the Philadelphia Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” list peppering her resume, Sunny White ’09 (MBA) is no stranger to success. However, it’s not the awards that define White, but rather her ability to bring others up along the way that make her a true leader.

Black and white image of Sunny White against a yellow background

by Diane Holliday

Keys to the Article
  • Xavier Creative House CEO Sunny White ’09 (MBA) defines success as building a workplace culture that embraces and engages people, making her company a place people love to work.
  • White launched an award-winning, comprehensive well-being initiative to help her team, clients and strategic partners embrace health in mind, body and spirit.
  • She also started a fellowship program and rotating mentorship program to develop college students and aspiring entrepreneurs, acclimating them to how their studies and endeavors relate to the real world.
  • This year, she’ll complete Saint Joseph’s Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing Certificate. As a proponent of lifelong learning, she recommends being enrolled in active learning every two years.

The daughter of a serial entrepreneur, Sunny White ’09 (MBA) remembers business as a frequent topic of conversation at the dinner table growing up. Though she may not have fully understood the concepts at the time, these discussions — discussions she’s now having with her own husband and children — would one day influence her path of becoming founder and CEO of healthcare marketing agency Xavier Creative House (XCH). 

But it wasn’t just the support of her family that shaped White as a future leader; it was her willingness to take a leap of faith and trust herself to succeed — and the willingness of others to do the same — that fueled her passion to lead with and for others.

When White began applying to MBA programs in 2007, she admits that standardized tests were not her strong suit. She had always been a straight-A student with a passion for learning, but put her in front of an exam like the GMAT and she froze.

Determined to gain acceptance to Saint Joseph’s MBA program, she met with then Associate Dean Adele Foley ’61 (B.A.) ’82 (MBA), in the Haub School of Business to discuss her options and ask if the University would allow her to prove herself.

“The fact they were willing to listen to me and not just evaluate me on paper is really kind of cool,” she says. “They planned out my first semester of studies, put me on probation, and told me if I was successful, that I was in. I just felt so empowered that they were willing to take a chance on me.”

Investing in the potential of others has become part of White’s mantra at XCH, where she’s built a fellowship program for Haub students.

“When I’m learning or helping other people learn, I’m most energized,” White says. “And that’s what inspired me to establish a philanthropic platform to support the next generation of leaders.”

The first student to join XCH's fellowship program was a freshman at Saint Joseph’s majoring in pharmaceutical healthcare marketing, who will work with the company throughout all four years of her undergraduate studies. Now in year two of the program, her most recent project includes evaluating a partnership with an external HR company, presenting her findings to XCH and helping them implement the program.

“She’s shining,” says White, who plans to offer the student a full-time job when she graduates. “We’re taking her strengths and what she’s excited about and bringing her up in operations. Her career path over the next four years will be in human resources, finance, IT and sustainability through the lens of healthcare and pharmaceutical marketing. Not only is she getting that real-world experience, but then she’s able to come back to the classroom and apply that knowledge.”

White also develops XCH team members through an internal mentorship program in which they shadow experts in their field over a one-month period. One week they’ll work with a member of the creative services team, the next week they’ll work with a client services manager, the following they’ll work with the strategy team, and so on, White explains.

“It’s an internal, skills-based plan, and we’re excited to grow our talent intelligence in the organization,” she says.

Cultivating an environment where employees feel nurtured and excited to work every day has always been a dream for White. And it’s a mindset she fully embraced when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020.

“Wellness is so important, especially with today’s health crisis,” she says. “Our well-being initiative includes on-demand fitness classes, nutrition and stress management support, and fitness challenges provided by our company’s new wellness director.”

The initiative — which earned XCH a callout on the Philadelphia Business Journal’s “2020 Healthiest Employers” list of finalists — is always evolving, with the latest addition including Yoga Nidra, a healing state of consciousness typically induced by a guided meditation.

“As a healthcare marketing agency, our call to action is, ‘if you want a healthy brand, hire a healthy company.’ I want our customers to know that at Xavier Creative House, we are where healthcare brands live,” she says.

White is not only an advocate of maintaining a healthy mind, body and spirit, but also engaging in continuous education; she encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to enroll in active learning every two years. This year, White completes Saint Joseph’s Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing Certificate, a program that drew her back to Hawk Hill 10 years after earning her MBA.

“The way Saint Joseph’s structures its curriculum is so forward-looking and innovative,” she says. “With microlearning and certifications, the University makes it easy for busy executives to come back to school and learn. And they make it attractive for us to send employees back too.”

White’s first order of business when she re-enrolled at St. Joe’s? Writing a letter to Dean Joseph DiAngelo, Ed.D., sharing her experience as a prospective MBA student 10 years ago, and thanking the Haub School for considering her grades, business experience and interview holistically when evaluating her as a returning student.

“The reason I think about St. Joe’s and the brand the way I do — it’s because of my personal experience applying to the MBA in 2007, the outstanding certificate programming, and the opportunity to earn a second MBA in Pharmaceutical Marketing. St. Joe’s took me under their wing and they accepted me. They gave me a chance.”