Black History Month Q&A with Lee Hepburn

February is Black History Month, an annual celebration of African Americans’ accomplishments and a time for appreciating critical contributions to U.S. history. To mark the occasion, we are featuring several of our African American employees at Sema4. Lee Hepburn, Senior Manager of Inside Sales, explains the importance of motivation in your career and how his family influenced his passions.

    • What is your role at Sema4?

Though my job description encompasses sales specific KPIs and daily tasks, I also champion the role of being a positive impact by building a OneTEAM approach that focuses on improving the delivery of superior products and services, and also enhancing the well-being and working environment with our clients, their patients, and our Sema4 peers.

What motivates you to work at Sema4?

I have dealt firsthand with the challenges that cancer and pregnancy loss can have on a family. Whether it was the loss of my sister or, recently, my mom to cancer, it is my hope that my work at Sema4 will help to positively impact the lives of others to make better health decisions because of our superior quality of testing, data, and counseling we provide.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

I appreciate Black History Month as a period of time dedicated to providing those who want to learn more a better understanding about the impacts, history, culture, and leadership that ancestral Africans have made in the development of the United States. It is because of this designated time that many people may find new insights they would never have considered, because this topic doesn’t normally come across their desk during the course of the day.

In addition to looking back, there are also some African Americans leaders of today who inspire me. They include Tony Dungy and his All-Pro Dad organization, Marian Croak, the leader of Google’s Research Center and a pioneer of Human Centered Technology with over 200 patents in her name and counting, and Bishop B. Curry V, a teenager who is seeking manufacturing support for a patented child heatstroke prevention device he created because he was moved by the senseless loss of a child left in a vehicle in his neighborhood.

What barriers have you had to overcome to reach this point in your career?

I do not see barriers. I only see solutions both realized and forthcoming. People think it’s just “Lee being Lee” when people ask me “how are you doing?” and I respond with “I’m breathing so I can’t complain.” What most don’t realize is the depth of that statement holds great humanity, mental, social, and physical awareness, which is the catalyst for solution building for me. I won’t delve too deep but valuing the gift of having the ability to breath catapults me to find solutions to life’s challenges and not see those challenges as bigger than life, aka barriers.

We all have tests in life. It’s not the test but your level of preparedness to overcome that truly matters.

Can you tell us about a role model who has inspired you?

I would be remiss if I did not at least mention the impact of my grandfathers and uncles, but Sam Hepburn, my dad, was and will always be my biggest role model. Love God, yourself, family, community- his mantra echoes through my actions still today. He taught me that in everything I do, I should know who I am truly doing it for because treasures in heaven and the dying man who has left the most positive memories unto himself and others is truly the wealthiest. He taught me the importance of tithing greater than William Colgate, standing up for truth no matter the cost (Saint Stephen), and the value of money as nothing more than a tool and not a measure of success. He also filled my head with music from every genre imaginable, from the 1920’s through the 80’s, so today I astound my family by singing the lyrics to most movies. He had his faults, he was human, but, to me, he will always be my superman!

What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career like yours?

My advice is please don’t pursue a career (a thing) but instead accept your gifts, seek passion in your daily work, and commit to making yourself and others around you better. Lastly, keep learning. Just like Warren Buffett, be committed to obtaining a personal PhD every year in the subjects you enjoy. I have found this formula has allowed me to create life-long relationships with my peers along the journey. I very much appreciate my Sema4 family and am blessed to work with so many creative people.

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