Alum journeys from barnyard to boardroom

Student looking at paper

By Derek Berkshire

Regardless of what his day brings, Wes Davis lives by a simple motto: Don’t be afraid to chase what you really love.

Davis, who earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics in 2018, has been putting in long hours and a lot of airline miles to chase his passion serving clients across the food and agricultural industry as a consultant for EY. Every Monday, Davis boards a plane to travel to a client’s office for the week before flying to his home in Chicago.

“I love that every day is a new day full of new tasks,” Davis said. “I feel like the work I’m able to do moves the industry forward.”

Davis is an idea generator. He helps his clients solve problems, implement strategic business changes, and stay competitive in an ever-changing industry. This high-energy schedule has him meeting with executives and asking thought-provoking questions meant to help feed a growing world. Aside from the schedule and the work, however, the need for continuous personal growth keeps him going.

“For me, everything goes back to using all of my potential and all of my ability to accomplish the tasks that are in front of me,” Davis said. “The worst thing you can do is forgo the opportunity to maximize those things and settle for the status quo and just do what gets you by.”

Davis has been maximizing opportunities his whole life. He is a first-generation college student from Point Pleasant, West Virginia, and knows opportunities are not always easy to come by. But for Davis, ideas proved to be even more powerful. His family taught him to chase his passions even when he was a kid. No matter his ideas, his parents were there to support him and challenge him to dream bigger.

Wes Davis looking at paperwork at a desk.
Photo by Derek Berkshire
Although he no longer spends his time managing his own chicken operation, Wes Davis puts his agricultural economics degree to use as a consultant for EY. Whether he is making presentations or helping guide his clients’ strategic direction, Davis says he is helping to shape the future of the agricultural industry.

Even so, he never conceived of having a jet-setting career. His ability to think big and capitalize on opportunities made him maximize the big moments in his life.

“I knew I always wanted to do something in food and ag, but I didn’t know exactly what that looked like,” Davis said. “To have this job now is almost fiction to me.”

Not surprisingly, his current success started humbly. When he was in fourth grade, Davis’ parents bought him a couple of rabbits simply for pets. Those few rabbits quickly multiplied into more than 35, and Davis’ entrepreneurial story was born. Eventually, Davis sold his rabbits as he got busier with school.

A couple months later, he was at the county fair and convinced his brother to give him money to buy what he thought would be a drink. Instead, Davis returned with a chick. Like the rabbit, this one chicken grew into more. Over time, Davis’ impulse buy turned into one of the largest free-range chicken operations in the state — and one of the biggest passions in Davis’ life.

“I was obsessed with making the birds productive and managing them well,” Davis said.

Although the chicken operation was a source of income, the chickens provided him with much more. They taught Davis how to manage a business and bring an idea to life. He was faced with many bumps in the road, but these ultimately prepared him for the next big moment in his life. Moreover, Davis said the business helped him to see the impact of acting on his ideas. After starting college, Davis sold his chickens, but his love of turning ideas into action remained.

For Davis, there is something special about the experiences he had growing up. While his parents encouraged his love of business, he learned to be tenacious and chase his goals. In high school, he learned to embrace failure and value hard work. “It’s not just one day you wake up and you’re like, ‘I have grit,’” Davis said. “It’s a process you have to develop. And getting told, ‘No’ a lot only helps that process.”

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