Oscar Groomes ’82 P’15: On Creating Value

“At the age of 29, I was a marketing manager in search of a plan. I knew that I wanted to experience professional freedom, but I wanted my life to encompass so much more.

Oscar Groomes“I dreamed of creating value. My mom earned a couple of master’s degrees while I was in high school, and I saw that achieving academic excellence helped her to get better jobs. My own educational experience, then—degrees from Brown, Tougaloo, and Carnegie-Mellon—was extremely important to me. But I know that every family doesn’t have that mindset, so early on I started giving back as a coach, as an adviser, and as a Big Brother.

“About 10 years after graduation, I began engaging with Brown: I sought to hire interns for GE for the summer and was asked to speak at a couple of engineering classes dealing with entrepreneurship. By 2003, positions on the Advisory Council on Engineering and the President’s Leadership Council under Ruth Simmons enabled me to see how the University and the School of Engineering sometimes worked in concert with one another and sometimes challenged each other. I was glad to have a voice. I trust I gave value to both. My newest undertaking—a member of the Advisory Council on Relations with Tougaloo—is broadening, as well as deepening, my understanding of my alma mater.

“Creating value for someone else also helped me to create value in my own pocket. I’m not rich, but I have more than I need, so I feel I can help someone else. I give where I know the impact is going to be felt. I support the School of Engineering; I like where Dean Larson is heading. I also like the direction that both former President Simmons and President Paxson are taking the University, so I support the Brown Annual Fund. And if I can help affinity groups—particularly those relating to African Americans—I do. I’m not one of these guys who can write a check for a million dollars. But what I can do, I do, and I do it on a regular basis. I’m proud of that. I’m also proud of being in the 1764 society; I celebrate it and use it as another vehicle to help my kids understand how to support philanthropy and make a difference.

“But of prime importance is who you’re with and how you deal with things. I’m fortunate to have the best wife and the best kids in the world. If you can have that kind of harmony and set up that kind of environment, you can win. Today, I feel I’m the luckiest man on the planet.”