Born and raised in Liberia, West Africa, Sam Siebu recalls many days spent praying for rain. Rain, at a time when his country was experiencing drought and famine, could translate into water for him to drink or food for him to eat. In addition to navigating the difficulties of food insecurity, Siebu suffered the loss of his father, his biggest role model and hero, during the Liberian civil war in the 90s. After losing his father and several other family members, he emigrated from West Africa to the U.S. with nothing but $10 in his pocket and the strong values of hard work and accountability, and a profound sense of duty he learned from his father.
“My father to this day has remained my role model,” Siebu said. “He led by example. He worked hard. He taught me the core values of being a servant leader, of being accountable for your actions, and my father certainly was my hero.”
After working for a few years as a refugee in a meat packaging plant and as a day laborer and garbage collector, Siebu eventually began a career in financial services and quickly worked his way through the ranks with great success. It wasn’t until he had a brief stint in human resources at Citibank, however, that he found his true calling.
“I often tell folks I have been blessed to have found HR,“ he said. “I know it might sound much like a cliché, but ever since I found HR over 20 years ago, I truly have not worked a single day in my life.”
Having risen above challenging life experiences, Siebu is now pursuing his HR calling at AdventHealth, where he has the opportunity to lift others up as the vice president of human resources in the West Florida Division. Lifting people up is one of Siebu’s personal passions, and he especially enjoys giving back by spending time with youth in communities of color, providing them words of encouragement, letting them know that if he can be where he is today, then they too have hope.
He recalls speaking to a classroom of eighth grade students about careers in health care and being approached afterwards by an African American student who was especially inspired.
“He said to me, ‘Do you think I can be a medical doctor?’ I said, ‘Absolutely. It's within you. Work hard, do the right thing, stay focused, stay disciplined and you can get there,’” Siebu said.
His powerful words of encouragement stayed with the student and Siebu recently received an email from the student’s mother thanking him for inspiring and believing in
her son, who was just accepted into medical school at the University of Maryland.
As a servant leader, Siebu believes giving back to the many diverse communities we serve is an important part of our mission, and he says he truly feels blessed to be part of an organization that emphasizes the value of community well-being.
“What I love about our organization is our culture. Every ounce of it – from the service standards Keep Me Safe, Love Me, Make It Easy and Own It – it resonates with my life,” he said.
Siebu says he is proud of the work we have done so far as an organization to support diversity and inclusion foundationally, and he believes we can continue to build and grow from here, with the community by our side.
“The sky is the limit. It’s going to take all of us working collectively as a tribe. We’re going to get so much done,” he said as he looked to the future of inclusivity at AdventHealth.