February 24, 2023
We are ending our Black History Month spotlight with Sam Smith, Senior Director of Operations. Sam joined SVP in 2022, and in his role, he is responsible for the development of relationships with clinical, financial, strategy, marketing, real estate and HR to support the operation of our hospitals.
Prior to SVP, Sam spent his last seven years, supporting leaders in the veterinary industry. Sam received his MA in Sports Management & Administration from Old Dominion University and his BS in Business & Sports Management with an emphasis in Public Relationships from his home by the sea Hampton University.
How did you get to where you are now?
Through the blessings of GOD, by investing in people and practicing daily, I can be a better partner to my peers and others. My career path consists of continuing to learn and grow from our Senior Leadership Team and home office partners while following the path GOD has predestined for me. While I'm not sure what that looks like, it has always been a path of blessings in my career endeavors.
How has SVP been instrumental in your development?
SVP has been instrumental in my career development, as I have been able to partner with teammates in many different roles to support both my short and long-term goals for the company. Through our WAG values and teammate partnerships, I continue to learn and grow while investing in others.
What motivates you?
While I am self-motivated, I find great joy in being a servant leader, which allows me to support and develop others, thus helping them meet their short and long-term goals. I start each day reflecting on my learnings, making adjustments to be a better partner, and contemplating how I can support making the veterinary space better for others.
Who has served as an inspiration in your life?
Many people have inspired me, but my family is first. They inspire me to be my best while giving back to my community and teammates. In addition, my parents, church, present and past friends, teammates, fraternity, and community leaders have all inspired me to become better at serving others. We follow a Platinum rule in our home: GOD, family, work, and everything else in life!!!
What does Black History Month mean to you?
For me, Black History Month is an opportunity to give thanks, show great appreciation, and honor the contributions and legacy of African Americans who have made the ultimate sacrifice and paved the way for me and other African Americans across the U.S. and around the world. People such as Sojourner Truth, W.E.B Du Bois, Philip Randolph, and Langston Hughes were inspiring hope for past, current, and future generations to come. During this month, I reflect on the contributions of community leaders like my mother and grandmother, who marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965, in Selma, AL, for voting rights and were beaten with clubs, bitten by dogs, sprayed with water hoses and hospitalized.
What is your advice to other individuals looking to join the veterinary industry?
My advice to others looking to join the veterinary industry would be to research the industry and companies whose mission and values align with yours. I encourage everyone to understand why we do what we do daily. Characteristics of people who will thrive in this industry will have the heart of a true servant leader and a passion for pets while understanding their impact on people's lives.
What changes have you seen within the veterinary industry regarding access to job opportunities for people of color?
With the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, many veterinary companies have pivoted to support this call to action by placing more focus on implementing company strategies to address the systemic racism that exists in the veterinary medicine industry. Investments in many of these key strategies have centered around Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion programs, which are helping companies to improve outreach and engagement partnerships in their communities, in their states, with universities, and with many of the veterinary medical associations that exist today. In addition, companies are partnering with their company leaders to create internal Diversity Resource Groups and utilize financial resources to invest in local schools, programs, and partnerships that have supported increasing access to quality veterinary care in our black and brown communities. These investments and partnerships have increased awareness of new opportunities for black and brown people in human resources, recruiting, marketing, learning & development, and operations. However, there are still opportunities to support similar growth as veterinarians, technicians, and various veterinary leadership roles within the industry.
What impact are you hoping to leave in this industry?
The impact I will leave on the industry has and will always center around people. Within the companies where I have been blessed with an opportunity to work, everyone will be able to say, "he was a true servant leader that led with his heart, supported his people, his amazing teammates, and our clients with a spirit of excellence."