Meet Wes Smith – Interim Assistant Vice President of Workforce Development
How long have you been with CCWA and what are your work responsibilities?
It’s been a wild ride. Over the last 7 years, I’ve been CCWA’s Richmond GATE Director, Manufacturing Coordinator, Director of Manufacturing & Logistics Programs, and currently, the Interim Assistant Vice President for Workforce Development. My goal at CCWA is to engage local business and industry partners and job seekers through various workforce solutions and industry credentials. The trades industry is a specific growth sector that I’m currently spending a lot of time on these days.
We heard you were in the military – what did you do while serving our country?
I joined the Marine Corps directly after high-school. My parents really wanted me to perform a technical job in the military in order to increase my skill-set. I went the opposite direction and enlisted as an infantryman. My unit’s specialty was raiding beaches with zodiac boats. But jokingly, I like to tell people our actual specialty was digging holes and shooting stuff. My personal specialty within our unit was mountain warfare. I became one of the few lead mountain climbers in the division and spent a lot of time hiking and cross-country skiing in California. I also completed two combat tours in Iraq in 2003 and 2004. Iraq was a true blessing for me. It was tough at times, but it changed my outlook on life and made me a truly grateful person. I feel like I gained 15 years of life experience from those 4 years of service.
What do you like to do when not at work?
Hanging out with my wife and kids is my favorite. They’re just fun people! Outside of family, it’s all about my side business in real-estate investing and the great outdoors. I try my best to keep the family involved in those areas too. My kids really enjoy the demolition component of rehabbing a house. This may be a slight exaggeration, but I also like to think I’m one of the best smallmouth bass fisherman in Virginia.
If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would do?
Build a team/framework that would allow me to become a serial entrepreneur and invest in a ton of real-estate. I’d always be involved in workforce development as well.
Where is your dream vacation?
Nowhere specific, but I am planning to take my family to Costa Rica soon. No resorts or fancy things, just traveling around in a 4-wheel drive rental car to go surfing, fishing, hiking, eating good food, talking to good people, etc. I think we’ll go when my youngest is six.
We know you love the outdoors – what would be some of your suggestions for a person who wants to start hiking and camping?
Just Do It! I think folks worry about tactics, special gear, expert advice, and preparation too much. Just grab your sneakers, water bottle, beef jerky, and GPS and go play in the mountains. Shenandoah National Park is a good place to start.
Where is your favorite place to eat around Richmond?
Anywhere I can have a fun date night with my wife and drink a craft beer.
What do you like best about working at CCWA?
The changing environment. Our workforce is changing at a rapid pace and I believe community colleges are in a position to help drive new innovations within the education and workforce development industry. I’m a huge fan of change and innovation, and CCWA allows me to work in this ever-changing environment on a daily basis. Our team is pretty cool too.