Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, United States: The PGA of America has promoted Sandy Cross to serve as the first Chief People Officer in the association’s history and Arjun Chowdri as the PGA’s first Chief Innovation Officer. They will both report to PGA of America Chief Operating Officer Darrell Crall.
As the new Chief People Officer, Cross will lead the PGA’s initiatives regarding its most important asset – its people. She is charged with enhancing a purpose-driven and values-based culture, as the PGA of America strives to be personally fulfilling and meaningful to a multi-generational team.
Cross will focus on creating opportunities to stretch, lead, grow and have fun, by supporting learning and development, coaching, recognition and reward, and making a positive social impact in the communities where the PGA team works and lives. Cross will also oversee the Human Resources and Diversity & Inclusion Departments.
In his new role as Chief Innovation Officer, Chowdri will be responsible for fostering a culture of innovation, idea generation and free thinking at the association and throughout the game of golf.
This includes identifying and executing against new growth areas and opportunities across the association, such as the development of best practices and research platforms; guiding the development of new initiatives and services; encouraging and nurturing entrepreneurship both internally and externally; leading international expansion; identifying new market spaces; creating and stewarding a robust idea-generation process internally; and directing PGA investments and funding for the benefit of the association and industry as whole.
Chowdri will also continue to oversee the Global Development and Research Departments.
“The PGA of America is proud to promote two outstanding leaders in Sandy Cross and Arjun Chowdri, as they help drive our team and the association in the growth of our people – our biggest resource – while inspiring innovation,” said Seth Waugh, Chief Executive Officer of the PGA of America, an Executive Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
“I’m excited that Arjun and Sandy will use their expertise in these newly created positions to steer the culture, vision and future of the PGA of America, our workforce, and, ultimately, the golf industry,” he added.
A member of the PGA of America team for 23 years, Cross has a breadth of experience that includes licensing and marketing, partnership sales and management, and women’s initiatives. In 2014, she launched the PGA’s Diversity & Inclusion initiative. Among many notable accomplishments, Cross secured and cultivated some of the PGA’s most coveted and long-standing partnerships, including Omega, National Car Rental and PepsiCo.
She was also on the front lines of launching Golf Retirement Plus and led the golf industry’s ‘Connecting With Her’ strategic initiative, which helped build a foundation for the PGA’s inclusion programming that is making the game, industry workforce and supply chain more reflective of America.
Cross earned her Certified Diversity Professional (CDP) credential from the Institute of Diversity Certification in 2016. She holds a Master’s in Sport Administration from Kent State University and a Bachelor’s in Legal Studies from the University of Buffalo, where she played NCAA Division I volleyball. Cross began her career with the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, followed by the United States Water Fitness Association. She is a native of Buffalo, New York, and serves on the Advisory Boards of CaddieNow, Women’s Golf Journal and several golf industry task forces.
For his part, Chowdri was previously the Senior Director of Global & Corporate Strategy for the PGA of America, where he was responsible for the association’s strategic planning process, research and global initiatives. Previously, he led the PGA’s Marketing & Communications Department, which included creative, public relations, digital, production and communications across all of the association’s initiatives and events.
Chowdri most recently developed an international strategy for the PGA, which includes the launch of a new joint venture that is creating a series of youth development centres in China. He also led a comprehensive bidding process for PGA Headquarters with various cities across the country, which produced the recently announced relocation of the PGA’s headquarters to Frisco, Texas.
After completing his under-graduate degree at the University of Chicago and MBA at the University of Oregon, Chowdri started his career in sponsorship consulting, representing such Fortune 500 companies as Visa, ConAgra Foods, and PepsiCo. He then moved to India, taking on a role as the General Manager of New Business for DNA Entertainment LTD, where he primarily supported the launch of the Indian Premier League and implemented the first sports e-ticketing system in the country.
Upon his return from India and prior to joining the PGA, he took on a role at Glaceau, which was then a newly acquired division of Coca-Cola, where he led the sports and entertainment marketing efforts behind brands that included POWERADE, vitaminwater and NOS Energy.