“John Carroll’s focus on how to care for and connect with others helped me transition from being a computer programmer to a leader in human resources.”
George Sample is Assistant Vice President at Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, leading the internal Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Opportunity team. He served as the president of the board of directors for the United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland, sits on the board of directors for the United Way of Greater Cleveland, and is president-elect of the Cleveland Society of Human Resource Management. George also serves on John Carroll's board of directors, is one of the founding members of John Carroll's Diverse Alumni Network, and is an executive committee member for John Carroll's Blue Gold Athletic Booster Club.
Q: Why did you attend JCU?
A: I’m from inner city Cleveland and went to John Hay High School. As an 18-year-old, I was most focused on where I could play football and run track. I knew I could do both here, plus I knew John Carroll had a really good reputation for academics.
I was my own guidance counselor at that age. I didn’t have a whole lot of support coming out of high school on how to think about choosing colleges. The track coach recruited me. I remember he drove me from John Hay to John Carroll. I got there, walked around campus, met some folks who were on the track team, and some of the football coaches, as well. The ability to play both sports was really a clinching factor for me, and John Carroll felt like a good academic fit.
Q: What story or experience best reflects your time at JCU?
A: The way John Carroll structured the grad program was hugely beneficial for me. I transitioned at Lubrizol from app developer to the HR team as manager of diversity and inclusion, and one of the things you learn when you go into human resources is that the education piece is so critical for those who aspire to ascend in their careers, so I went back for business administration. There was such a focus in John Carroll’s program on leadership. Those leadership concepts of understanding how to read a room, managing different personalities, understanding how to negotiate and communicate—those were the most impactful for me. In each of the organizations where I’ve gone into leadership positions, it’s work I’ve enjoyed doing, but I think part of that John Carroll experience is how can we lead, how can we make this better, how can we push this forward. The byproduct is I have a strong network at this point that leads to new and different opportunities.
Q: What was the most valuable learning/lesson from JCU that shaped you personally or professionally?
A: One of the things about John Carroll is that they construct their classes around how to think, how to interact with others, and how to care for others. That caring for others and being able to connect with others was the biggest part that enabled me to pivot from being a computer programmer to a leader in human resources. My last two years of being a programmer, I transitioned to supporting our human resources information systems. I got to know the people in HR and joined a number of committees. I was doing a lot of networking before I knew what building a network was. I was just doing it because it was fun, and it was something I was used to doing at John Carroll.
A key learning for me that I’ve been able to carry forward is how important building strong, meaningful relationships with people is. Caring for their career, caring for them in a project, or coaching them along when they’re struggling. That sense of caring was a key point at John Carroll, and something I’ve carried with me to this day.
Q: How are you making a human impact in your career?
A: When I transitioned into human resources as the manager of diversity and inclusion, my second month we had a planning session. We were talking about who was going to be positioned for leadership. We were planning out people’s careers, and I saw how much input and influence human resource managers had on the careers of people across the company. I realized human resources can impact the entire organization in either a positive or negative way. I’ve made it my mission, especially as an advocate for diversity and inclusion, to make sure I’m at that table to have a positive impact on human capital.