The HBCU Experience: Samuel Brown lll, Industry Leader, Tennessee State University

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In celebration of the release of the book “The HBCU Experience: Tennessee State University” book (out now), we got the chance to interview TSU alumnus and industry leader Koereyelle Dubose. Check it out!

 

Randall: Tell us about yourself!

Samuel Brown: I am an open book to be honest. By the time I was 12 I had lived in seven US states and two foreign countries, but most of my upbringing was in the DC Area; Prince George’s County Maryland specifically. I am an Aries so by nature I love doing anything that is competitive. My family and inner circle is pretty important to me. I am a father of two amazing children and the son of an incredible mother who never gave up on me. I’m the oldest of my mom’s children so in one way or another I was the trailblazer for my siblings. I definitely showed them how NOT to do a few things, but I’d like to think they got some pretty good insight for free as well. 

 

Randall: How did you end up at Tennessee State University? 

Samuel Brown: I attended the United States Air Force Academy for eight months and was dismissed for failure to adhere to academic and military standards. I went home and worked a 9-5 as a Pharmacy Technician for five months before deciding it was time to go back to school. I enrolled in the Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering program at NC State and attended classes for about a week and realized that wasn’t for me either. Thanks to some connections my father maintained while in the US Air Force, I was able to get late admission to Tennessee State University. 

 

Randall: What did you get your degree in? Did it support what you are doing now?

Samuel Brown: I have of Bachelor of Sciences in Aeronautical & Industrial Technology from Tennessee State University and a Master of Sciences in Operations Management from the University of Arkansas. Both degrees have been very instrumental in my career thus far which has been entirely operations focused. I went from flying military aircraft, to military aircraft maintenance, to aerospace manufacturing and testing, to entertainment manufacturing. The constant in all of these has been the business and engineering-based concepts offered in the requisite coursework. 

 

Randall: Can you give me a quick description of your years in college? 

 

Samuel Brown: Imagine if someone took parts of A Different World, Juice, Menace II Society, Annapolis, Higher Learning, and Stomp The Yard to make a four season Netflix Show…it was a lot like that. 

 

Randall: What year would you consider as your success year?

 

Samuel Brown: In my opinion, success is becoming/ being the person you were truly meant to be. With that said, my belief is my success year has yet to come. I set goals…some I make and some I miss, but I keep setting them. I am thankful for the help I’ve received along the way and the various sources of inspiration that fuel my motivations. I am proud of what I’ve been to accomplish thus far while remaining optimistic that my definition of success still awaits me. 

 

Randall: How did you start working in your current position?

 

Samuel Brown: I worked for the Boeing Company for six years, implementing various tactical and strategic initiatives that saved the company millions of dollars and the successful delivery of hundreds of aircraft. However, my effort did not translate to promotional opportunities and I decided to take matters into my own hands. I sought profession resume writers to help me capture elusive elements of my career experience and translate them in away that would me marketable outside of aerospace and aviation. I also sought paid memberships with online career services like LinkedIn and Ladders and spent a lot of time applying for jobs and messaging recruiters across various industries. In six months time I interviewed with various employers and decided on my current company because of the specific business and execution issues they were facing at the moment.

 

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I took the new job because I saw their problems as tremendous opportunity to prove my worth as a leader and a problem solver. I volunteered to tackle issues others had given up on or didn’t even recognize and pulled diverse work group together to evaluate and solve them. I taught people how to engage one another in more positive and collaborate ways with emphasis on cross functional capability vs silos. I showed teams how to do more with less while addressing pay and opportunity inequities. And each time I was promoted, I made sure to recognize my team for the helping me get there while  actively developing and elevating them as well.

 

The rest has been history. 

 

Randall: Did you expect to be in the position you are in today?

Samuel Brown: I can honestly say I never imagined I’d be where I am today. And I mean that in every sense of the statement: my education, my experiences…even the places I’ve lived in and visited; I didn’t expect any of it. I’m thankful for failing early and often in my initial educational and career pursuits. Those first failures provided a unique experience and amazing perspective. 

 

Having seen and experienced ‘the bottom’ I haven’t had to fear going back; it’s not unfamiliar which makes it less scary. And climbing out made me realize there isn’t much I can’t do. What you believe is what you become. Said differently, the absence of fear has allowed me to control more of my destiny and drive pro-actively in what I want for myself and what I want my legacy and impact to be. 

 

Randall: How do you feel your HBCU experience at Tennessee State University aid you in your success?

Samuel Brown: In the land golden sunshine, I was provided an environment that was rich in culture. That culture taught me the importance of contributing to the community and doing my part in shrinking the academic and wealth gaps in our country. Like all other HBCUs, Tennessee State was founded to prepare myself and others like me with the essential skills necessary to cultivate a career. 

 

In my opinion, the TSU experience is singularly distinctive in that it’s the perfect microcosm for the real world. I was enabled by having to problem solve inside and outside of the classroom. I was challenged by the curriculum as well as the many different distractions Nashville had to offer. I found myself in an environment that intended to build my confidence in preparation for the realities that awaited me in post-graduate life. Lastly, I learned my first lessons on assessing my value and not allowing others to determine my worth. Those lessons have proven to be invaluable. 

 

Randall: What’s next on your journey?

Samuel Brown: I’m enjoying the journey as it unfolds. I’m not in a particular hurry to get anywhere specific, but I’m all about the appreciation of the experience along the way. I’m definitely authoring my the bucket list and adding more to it as I go along. I’m going to continue building my company and with the goal of becoming a preferred employer as well as find better ways to benefit under-represented and underserved employees, employers and communities. I plan to run for local, state and national office at some point as well. And for fun, I have two more continents (Australia and Antartica) to visit before I can say I’ve set foot on all seven. I hope to see space before it’s all said and done as well. 

 

Randall: Tell us about your book The HBCU Experience: Tennessee State University?

Samuel Brown: The book highlights the collaborative HBCU experience of Tennessee State University Alumni. It tells the story of how our school molded and influenced the journey of each contributing author. The proceeds from book sales will be going back to the TSU.

 

Randall: Where can we find you?

I have taken a step back from Social Media to focus my energies elsewhere, but I can be found on Instagram @_gxxdy. My digital footprint is starting to grow so I’m not too difficult to find these days. You can pull up on me after shelter-in-place orders expire, but in the meanwhile feel free to reach me at [email protected]

 

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