Staff Spotlight: Caliber Senior Director Stephen Sumner.
Based in Fishkill, New York, Caliber Senior Director Stephen Sumner joined the team in 2018. This tennis superfan and fun family man sat down with Caliber Culture Manager, Kate Forster, to talk about his personal life and his career in public relations for financial services and fintech companies. Read on to learn more about Caliber Senior Director and DE&I champion Stephen Sumner in this Staff Spotlight interview.
Kate: What is your favorite nickname and how did you get it?
Stephen: Poppa or Poppasums. They have an interesting origin. I used to refer to my Dad as Poppasums in high school and college in a joking manner. Then it stuck with me my freshman year of college when I made my AOL IM handle Poppasums7 after my friends started calling me by the nickname. Many of my friends still say and spell out P-O-P-P-A-S-U-M-S-7 when addressing me especially after not seeing me for a while. It takes me back to my younger days. Now I’m just Dad, mostly.
Kate: Where do you consider “home”? What is special about it?
Stephen: Home is dinner time with my family. In recent years, I’ve been cooking more and I love serving meals to my wife and children when I can. I’m not an expert, but I enjoy the process of making food and learning new recipes. When I was a kid, family dinners were a very important part of our family tradition and my wife and I try to preserve that with our family today.
Kate: What non-work activities inspire you?
Stephen: Tennis. Did you see Andy Murray’s 5-set 5 hour and 45 minute victory at 4 a.m. in the second round of the Australian Open this year — all with a metal hip. No? Check it out. Need I say more?
Kate: If you had to include one ingredient in every meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Stephen: I enjoy a good, ripe avocado and many kinds of cheese. I enjoy salty and sweet equally, so I’m going to have to punt on this question. Too much to choose from.
Kate: What’s your favorite movie and/or book?
Stephen: When I was a kid I read “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle and it was one of the first literary epiphanies of my life. I also enjoy Hemingway novels. My favorite all-time movie is the Italian film Cinema Paradiso because the story is beautiful and I once wanted to be a movie director.
Kate: What’s one accomplishment from your childhood that you still brag about?
Stephen: I scored a game-winning goal during homecoming weekend at the end of my high school varsity soccer team’s final win in sectionals when I was a senior in high school. I also was in the homecoming court, but was edged out for king by the funniest guy in school who was a football star and played in college. So much for late-game soccer theatrics.
Kate: What’s something your colleagues don’t know about you?
Stephen: I walk 8-10,000 steps per day and I need to walk every evening after the kids are in bed. If I don’t do it, I haven’t finished the day properly.
Kate: When you think about your time at Caliber, what career accomplishment or milestone makes you feel most proud?
Stephen: I think I’ve grown just as our business has over the past four plus years. I’m proud of the PR professional and manager that I’ve become and what our company has been able to accomplish. It’s truly a wonderful place to work and our people are incredible.
Kate: Name one thing that amazes you about fintech or innovation in financial services.
Stephen: Fintech and financial services are always changing and so much is happening all at once. It’s tough to keep up with everything and there are so many interesting stories to tell. The people behind the industry are brilliant and you can learn a lot about leadership and entrepreneurship. It makes it easy to dig into new topics and technologies shaping business and the future.
Kate: What’s your favorite thing about working at Caliber?
Stephen: The people. We have an excellent team of all-stars.
Kate: What historical figure do you most admire?
Stephen: Benjamin Franklin. He was an innovator and made a major positive impact on the world starting from humble origins. He’s an example of the enduring American spirit and will continue to teach us for generations to come.
To learn even more about Stephen Sumner, check out this interview.