Two UNI Alums Make 2018 Des Moines Forty Under 40 List
Earlier in February, two University of Northern Iowa graduates, Cassie Sampson and Amanda Young, made the Des Moines Business Record’s Forty Under 40 list for 2018. The list recognizes Central Iowa business leaders who “are under the age of 40 and have demonstrated impressive career achievements and unparalleled community involvement,” according to the Business Record website.
Amanda Young’s life and career took a different turn during the recession as well, but her timing was a little more ideal.
Young, a 2001 UNIBusiness graduate in management with a human resources emphasis, had worked in human resources since she left college. She received a master’s degree from Iowa State while living in Des Moines and found a connection with Kum & Go, where she worked as manager of education and development from 2006 to 2008.
With two young children, Young took a year off from work, just before the recession hit in 2008. When she returned to the workforce in summer 2009, she found a position with Bankers Trust, where she is now the senior vice president of human resources. She oversees and sets the strategic vision for Bankers Trust’s human resources department.
When Young found out she was named to the Forty Under 40 list, it was met with complete excitement. “And at the same time, honor and disbelief,” she said. “There’s always such an impressive pool of individuals. You’re always honored when you’re in the presence of folks like that. I always look forward to those opportunities because when you’re surrounded by great folks in those pools, it makes you better personally.”
Young believes strongly in community engagement, which falls right in line with Bankers Trust’s values. She sits on the Young Women’s Resource Center board of directors and is involved in a program that identifies young adults struggling with substance abuse to help them on their path to recovery. “I have a great organization that is involved in the community and is known to be involved in the community,” Young said. “I think their support and nomination is something I should give credit to. In terms of my community service, my secret sauce has always been getting involved with organizations where I have a skill set to add, and I have a passion for.”
When Cassie Sampson opened her business, East Village Spa, with four employees in September 2008, she thought the timing couldn’t get much worse. But it turned out to be just the opposite.
Just a day after she signed her first lease, the market crashed and the United States was thrown into an economic recession from which it took several years to recover. Sampson, a 2001 UNI graduate in recreational therapy, was worried that cash-strapped customers wouldn’t spend money on her services. “It was not ideal. It was scary,” she said. “But my thought was if you start from the bottom, financially speaking, all you can do is grow and get better.”
As the recession hit and people’s fears about savings and finances grew, Sampson found that people needed affordable stress- and pain-relieving services.
Her business flourished, and within a year and a half she was knocking down walls and expanding her business. Now, 10 years later, she has made it onto the Business Record’s Forty Under 40 list for 2018. Her business employs 25 people and does about $1 million in revenue each year. For someone without a business degree, being on the list means a lot to Sampson. “I was really excited [to find out I was on the list], especially as a licensed massage therapist and a small-business owner to represent massage therapy positively,” she said.
In an industry with high turnover, Sampson’s health and wellness background helps her create a welcoming and positive work environment for her employees. That means her employees stay longer, which allows customers to build meaningful relationships with the business.
That’s what keeps East Village Spa moving right along. “I think my background and my understanding as a service provider in health care is why I can keep my employees here a long time,” Sampson said. “Because of that, we retain our clients and we care so deeply for our clients.”