Dr. Christine Chmura, CEO and Chief Economist of Chmura Economics & Analytics

With a career spanning three decades, Dr. Christine Chmura knows what it’s like to have humble beginnings and work her way to both CEO of her own company and a trailblazer in the world of economics and analytics, where precision and innovation intersect.

As the CEO and Chief Economist of Chmura Economics & Analytics, she not only has shaped the landscape of economic consulting but also pioneered groundbreaking approaches to workforce development.

Chmura has served on the Virginia Governor’s Advisory Board of Economists under the last eight administrations and is a past-president of the Virginia Association of Economists. Additionally, she is a past board member of the National Association of Business Economics.

Her path into the realm of economics was influenced by her academic pursuits and her innate competitive spirit.

“I played field hockey at Clemson and I’ve always been involved in sports. Coming from a family of six kids I tend to be competitive,” she said.

Graduating with a BS in Business Administration from Clemson University in 1981, she initially explored the possibility of pursuing missions work before returning to Clemson for her master’s degree in economics. It was during her time as an associate economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond that Chmura honed her research skills and gained invaluable insights into macroeconomics.

Following her tenure at the Federal Reserve Bank, Chmura transitioned to Crestar Bank, later acquired by SunTrust (now Truist), where she eventually took on the role of Chief Economist. However, her entrepreneurial spirit and passion for economic research eventually led her to establish Chmura Economics & Analytics in December 1998. Initially a small venture, the firm has since grown into a team of 67.

The early days of Chmura Economics & Analytics were characterized by challenges and learning experiences.

As a startup, Chmura said she was doing everything from project work to bookkeeping and hiring.

“When we expanded to about 6 to 8 people, we had to create policies around things such as sick time, holidays, and vacations,” she said. “Somewhere around 40 employees, we were large enough so that I could cut back on project work and shift to decision-making, thought leadership, and maintaining our culture based on our values.”

Wearing multiple hats as a founder, Chmura juggled project work, hiring, and business operations. However, she recognized the importance of surrounding herself with individuals who complemented her skill set. This came with the hiring of Leslie Peterson, whose expertise in marketing and SEO proved instrumental in propelling the firm forward. Today Peterson serves as President & Chief Strategic Officer at Chmura.

“We like to hire people who are very good at what they do, but our culture is one of quality, one of excellence and so it’s important that we provide the best data that we can and we provide the best consulting studies that we can because we know that people are making decisions based on it,” she said.

Chmura’s commitment to addressing real-world challenges in economic and workforce development led to the creation of JobsEQ, a patented, interactive web-based labor tool. Designed to bridge the gap between supply and demand for occupations, JobsEQ empowers practitioners to devise strategies tailored to their regions’ needs. By providing real-time data and actionable insights, JobsEQ has become a resource for policymakers, educators, and businesses.

Her advice to young people just starting in their careers is to hold yourself to high standards.

“Equip yourself for a career and never stop learning,” she said.

Despite the myriad challenges that come with navigating a rapidly evolving industry, Chmura continues to pursue innovation.

“Innovation comes from talking to clients and talking to employees and brainstorming ideas and then trying to put it in a manner that is consumable,” she said.

“And some of that comes with talking to your clients and finding out from your clients, ‘How are you going to use this information?’ ‘And what information do you need to make your decision?’”

From expanding the capabilities of JobsEQ to exploring new avenues for growth, she is driven by a quest to make a meaningful impact.

She’s never viewed being a woman as a barrier in her field but she has always been used to working hard.

“I’ve always had to work very hard at everything and I’ve had some success and I guess that success has given me confidence going forward,” she said. “God has blessed me and I have great faith that He will continue to and He’s guiding my path.”