Interview by Derek Grosso
As a first generation college graduate (on both sides of his family), Samuel Davis became accustomed to habitually making tough decisions at a young age with minimal parental guidance and based solely on research, instincts, and trial and error. “These experiences helped me develop character, and an oven-baked maturity that equipped me with business acumen eligibility to join the ranks of INROADS, an organization that helps ethnically diverse students earn Fortune 500 corporate management internship positions in the United States and preparation for community leadership,” said Davis. He prioritizes faith and family. He donates his time and talents to several local organizations, including the Autism Society of Columbus, COSI, Easterseals, Make-a-Wish, and the Stem Industry Council (SiNC). And he quotes innovators like Thomas A. Edison, stating: “There is no substitute for hard work.” Davis proves this truth as he treks across Columbus living his life and giving back, for he is the epitome of hard work having no substitute.
Name: Samuel Preston Davis IV
Occupation: State of Ohio’s Department of Administrative Services, Office of Information Technology
Education/Certifications: Bachelors from Xavier University, PMI-ACP, CSM, CBAP, PVMP
Give us a snapshot of the path to where you are today:
After graduation from Roger Bacon High School, I attended and graduated from Xavier University – I remain a proud Spartan and Musketeer. I entered the financial services and operations industries, obtaining roles such as Financial Center Branch Manager, Operations Director, and Regional Sales Manager to name a few. To obtain a more accommodating work/life balance, I switched careers and fell into the Information Technology industry. I’m a testament to being self-taught, doing the hard work, and remaining resilient – as I read the BABOK and PMBOK, attended strategic business development workshops and deliberately attained several information technology credentials. Today I’m humbled to admit that I’ve earned the reputation as a respected information technology professional and business operations expert with a proven track record at implementing enterprise IT solutions, establishing strategic governance operations, and creating value in the lives of others while forming collaborative partnerships that do good for the 614 community.
What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way?
All that I am, and all that I will ever be – I owe to my parents. My work ethic, enthusiastic spirit, and loyalty towards family is what I’ve been taught, and what I had learned and observed all my life from the truest Man I’ve ever known, my father, Samuel Davis Sr.
My mother, Patricia Davis, is responsible for helping me obtain my kindness, love for the Lord, and fundamental determination to be a nice person to everyone. It’s very important for me that I instill in my children the good things that my parents worked all of their lives to instill in me. Through God’s grace, and my parents sacrifices and commitment towards being great parents; I am humbly grateful and thankful for the blessings I am today experiencing.
I have been fortunate to have many mentors throughout my life, both men and women, during high school, college, and in the present. This provides explanation why I am considered a passionate STEM advocate and people person committed towards inspiring folks, offering words of affirmation, and being kind as often as humanly possible. The best piece of advice I’ve ever obtained came from my favorite author, Langston Hughes, regarding the pursuit of obtaining success. Mr. Hughes said, “the definition of success is obtaining the humility and status in life where one can create opportunities for someone and not expect anything in return.” I try to achieve this by working to create value in peoples lives and collaborating habitually to do good works in my community and life.
Talk about some of your work-life balance challenges. How do you achieve success in spite of the hustle and bustle?
I believe in prioritization maturity, and my order of priorities are my faith, my wife, and then everything else. I learned a long time ago to not place my hobbies, career, or talents over family. Nothing good comes from neglecting my wife or children, and it’s non-negotiable to commit to anything that causes an interference or neglect of my family. Unimportant things that cause neglect and harm are only meaningful to an immature selfish person – I’ve taken accountability and learned from my mistakes. Now as a man, a faithful and loving husband, an engaged parent – I do not compromise the important life moments by choosing unimportant things that don’t provide tangible benefits or help enhance my family. This train of thought has inevitably earned me respect from my peers, management, and has influenced my career trajectory over the years. “It’s ok to make mistakes in life, just as long as we learn from them and not endlessly repeat them.”
What gets you up in the morning? And what gets you through the workweek?
What gets me up each morning from my California King-Sized Comfy Bed is my fundamental desire and pleasure to provide the best life I can for my lovely wife and adorable children. What gets me through the workweek is my appreciation and wisdom in knowing that to be living above ground versus 6 feet under is equally a blessing, privilege, and opportunity to “make every passing minute a chance to turn it all around.” It’s about perspective, and I’m a testament that remaining aware and alert is the key to living, learning, and experiencing the moments that matter during our lives.
What do you do or where do you go to unwind?
To unwind, I enjoy playing a round of golf in and around the central Ohio area, perhaps playing a game of chess at Whole Foods in Easton during Friday evenings, or providing maintenance to my saltwater marine fish aquarium.
When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
When I was a kid, I wanted to become an architect. Mathematics, drawing, and building things with my Erector Set were some of my favorite things to do. It seems that my son has inherited all those talents but in a much greater capacity. My son is committed to becoming a Master Lego Builder and his grandparents are his most championed fans – unsurprisingly and enthusiastically.
What are among the top places you’d recommend to someone who is visiting or new to Columbus?
For anyone visiting or is new to Columbus, my wife and I would highly recommend they 1) visit the romantic Hocking Hills Cabins, 2) enjoy a date night at Smith & Wollensky, Sur La Table, or VR Dreamscape at Easton, 3) listen to live tunes at Natalie’s Music Hall & Kitchen, and 4) indulge at Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace followed by relaxing outdoors along the Columbus Commons during an event in the spring or fall seasons.
Tell us about a community initiative (or initiatives) that you’re most passionate about:
As a proud parent of a child with autism, I take pride in being an active and engaged volunteer at the local Autism Society of Columbus and helping with its annual Autism Speaks Walk. What’s more, I serve on the Board of Directors for two nonprofits, Easterseals and COSI. At Easterseals, I’m currently assisting with the Romance the Grape fundraiser event, where guests will enjoy over 100 varieties of fine wines, cheeses and hors d’oeuvres from Columbus’ finest restaurants, and at COSI; I’m helping coordinate and support its Annual Science Festival extravaganza. Both groups are advocates for children and people with developmental disabilities. Last of all, I am currently an IT Advisory Board Member for the Stem Industry Council (SiNC), a volunteer for the Central Ohio’s Make a Wish Foundation, and a Commissioner for the Columbus Good Sport Golf Club Association. My passion is to create value in the lives of others, and I become fulfilled when I’m able to collaborate with people to do good works in the community.
If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
Columbus is immersive and fun, making great strides towards becoming one of the hottest towns in the United States. Homeowners are steadily earning equity, and young professionals are relocating to the city in tidal waves. Plentiful jobs, safe neighborhoods, and abundant extracurriculars to encourage new acquaintances and friendships – plus the city has great golf courses, fishing ponds, and bike trails to experience. It’s a great place to raise a family, enjoy various lifestyles and cultures, and obtain access to trend setting social activities. Columbus has all the ingredients to become a uniquely great city; it’s destined to become the newest Midwestern Gold Rush!