Sama Hershey Davis of InterWest Insurance Services wins North Bay Women in Business award
Sama Hershey Davis learned to fly and trust her gut. She is a 2020 North Bay Business Journal Women in Business Awards winner.
Professional background: I’ve been with InterWest Insurance Services, LLC since 2016. The running joke in insurance is none of us grew up saying, “I’m going to work in insurance” and my story is no different.
I began my career in human resources at Fireman’s Fund. I worked with and learned from a phenomenal group of women there including: Sarah Held, Elizabeth Sharpe, Dawn Greer, Tammy Ingrassia and Nancy Hoyer.
Over the course of several years, I developed a passion for employee benefits – I wanted to be an advocate for both employees and employers in the ever-changing landscape that intertwines employee benefit programs and the legislature that governs them.
In 2003, my career path shifted from human resources to employee benefits consulting. I was able to maintain my connections with the human resources community while pursuing my passion as an advocate for employee benefit programs and services. I started in the industry as an account manager. With hard work and dedication, I earned the leadership role that I hold today.
Education: Bachelor of Science in business administration with a concentration in Human Resource Management, California State University Sacramento
Staff: Locally, there are about 25 employees between our locations in Petaluma and Santa Rosa
Tell us about yourself and your company: I am a Sonoma County native, born and raised in Sonoma. My husband and I will have been married for 11 years in July and we have an inspiring 8-year-old daughter that challenges us every day to be the best version of ourselves. I am the North Bay Benefits Practice Leader with InterWest Insurance Services, LLC. We are a full service brokerage firm serving the communities in which we live and work.
My job is to lead and support our clients and local team through the ever-changing landscape of employee benefits. We are also dedicated to giving back to the community through numerous philanthropic endeavors.
Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?
My colleagues and I joined InterWest in August of 2016 to launch our Petaluma location with the goal of providing quality, high touch, and community focused brokerage services to Sonoma County.
Our long-term goal was (and still is) to grow our presence in the North Bay with the hope of having offices in both the north and south ends of the county. Through natural growth and acquisition, we officially opened our new office in Santa Rosa in December 2019.
We now have two locations in Sonoma County that I’m immensely proud of. Our growth was a true team effort and we continue to look for new opportunities that fit our culture and expertise. I never thought I would be part of building a business locally and the experience has been challenging, but very rewarding.
What is the achievement you are most proud of?
July 2, 2002 - I earned my private pilot’s license! It was a childhood dream that finally came to fruition after I graduated from college and landed my first “real” job. Every dollar that remained from my paycheck after paying rent, utilities, and student loan payments went towards flight lessons.
I was ecstatic when all the hard work paid off and I passed my exam. Flight is freeing and terrifying at the same time. That moment you are in the cockpit and realize you are responsible for maneuvering into the sky and returning to the ground safely is a defining moment.
I learned so much about myself - to trust my gut, get out of my own way, and conquer a dream. The experience has made me a better mother, friend, wife, colleague and mentor.
What is your biggest challenge today?
In recent months, what isn’t a challenge?
Honestly, I think being present and thoughtful is my biggest challenge currently. With the shift in taking both work and school to the home environment, we are all on sensory overload. The number of legislative changes that have occurred as a result of COVID-19 have brought new meaning to the phrase vertical learning curve in my profession.
How these regulations impact my clients, their work and their employees has changed by the day, hour and minute. I have had to pause and ask the question, which of these topics is most critical before I send yet another email or host another webinar?
There are times where we all need to stop, pick up the phone, and remember the value of a genuine conversation.
Words that best describe you: Dedicated, kind, loyal, compassionate, driven, creative, resourceful and resilient.
In what ways have the pandemic and the shelter-in-place orders changed who you are as a person that will be a part of you long after the pandemic has passed?