San Diego residents are a success story of sustainable career choices. Career Counselors provides rare insight into community, business, and civic leaders with rewarding jobs. Discover how ordinary students turned passion into personal growth and the amazing employment opportunities that followed.
Scott Peters is the Chairman for the Board of Port Commissioners. The Port is governed by a seven member board which establishes policies under which the Port’s staff conducts its daily operations. The Port manages the state tidelands in and around San Diego Bay, which produces $3.3 billion in direct economic impact to the region and supports jobs for more than 40,000 San Diegans.
Peters, a former Duke University student, is no stranger to leadership roles with an extensive resume including being an economist at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. E.P.A.), co-chair for the San Diego’s Clean Water Task Force, and serving on the San Diego City Council for 8 years (including Council President 2006-2009).
With an undergraduate degree from Duke University he first became an economist for the U.S. E.P.A. before eventually attending New York University School of Law and starting a successful career.
How did the education you received at Duke and NYU shape your early career? What tips or advice do you have for current students or recent graduates looking to begin a career?
Keep your eyes open and find what you are interested in and even passionate about. You won’t be any good at something you don’t love.
What were some of the challenges you had to overcome in transitioning from Duke University to getting your first job? What prompted your return to education?
I wanted to get experience away from the artificial and comfortable trappings of school. I had a great time making the adjustments to independence, learned a lot in my first job, and was ready to move into my legal studies.
What characteristics (personal growth, employer expectations, and work ethic) are common among all your career choices?
I have always looked for the next challenge, the next place I can grow and contribute. It has always seemed pretty obvious to me when it is time to move on, and I have always found a great new challenge when that time came.
In your career you have been employed, an employer, promoted, appointed, and elected which gives you some very rare insight into becoming a civic leader in our community.
What are some of the keys to success in achieving leadership roles in both the private and public sector?
Be a listener first. You can’t lead unless you understand where you need to go. And you can’t get there without understanding the opportunities and challenges – that comes from listening.
Do you have a leader, role model or someone that inspires you in your life?
My wife is an unbelievably talented mother, wife and businessperson.
Currently you manage a $3.3 billion/year agency that supports over 40,000 jobs as well as raising a family in La Jolla.
How do you manage managing your work and home life?
I schedule time for family, exercise, friends, sleep and vegetating. I work the rest of the time.
“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” – John D. Rockefeller.
Do you find Rockefeller’s idea to be true?
Usually I find the opposite – as Voltaire observed, we let perfect be the enemy of good. Sometimes we are afraid to act because we are afraid that our imperfection will be criticized. I find myself more sympathetic to Teddy Roosevelt, when he said “The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent, experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it, if it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”
Do you have a quote, saying, message, or idea you would like to express to the youth?
“No one on his deathbed ever said, ‘I wish I spent more time at work.” – Chairman Scott Peters