Finance sparked Sam Komisar’s interest early.
Inspired by his dad, an accountant, Sam was keeping tabs on the stock market in the Milwaukee newspaper by his freshman year of high school. He noticed a trend: When a company was acquired, the stock price would shoot up. So when he heard Virgin Airlines was in talks of being acquired, he asked his dad to buy a couple shares on his behalf.
“The next day it got bought out and the stock went up 40%. So, of course, freshman-year-of-high-school me thinks that I’m the next Warren Buffet,” Sam says. “And that really led me to coming to UW–Madison my freshman year, thinking that I wanted to end up on Wall Street.”
At the Wisconsin School of Business, Sam became very involved in student organizations. He took on leadership positions and networked “nonstop.” However, by his junior year, he was overextended and his mental health was suffering. He was also grappling with his chosen career path. “I couldn’t really find my true ‘why’ for going into the investment world,” Sam says. He needed a change, so he pressed pause on finance courses to explore other course topics he was passionate about.
Stepping back gave him the distance he needed to recognize a common misconception in business—that to succeed, you simply have to put your head down and work hard.
“While hard work is really important, I think that this philosophy rejects the importance of taking care of yourself,” Sam says. “Contrary to a lot of people’s belief in the business world, mental health and wellness is a fundamental pillar to success just as much as any technical skill set, just as much as any amount of work you put in.”
This newfound understanding inspired him to start the student organization HUMAN Capital, a mental health advocacy group for business students. There, students discuss topics related to mental health and wellness and their vital, though often overlooked, place in the business world.
Over the course of his journey, Sam explored his career interests through three internships: first with nonprofit The Ability Center, then with Baird in wealth management, and most recently with Spaulding Ridge in tech consulting. These internships pushed him out of his comfort zone—which, he recognizes, is where growth takes place.
“I don’t think there’s such a thing as failure as long as you learn from your mistakes,” he says. “I really embrace opportunities to make mistakes just as much as opportunities to succeed.”
During this time, Sam gained clarity on what he truly wants from his career. He now plans to start in management consulting and work toward his dream job of being a diversity and inclusion consultant.
“There are opportunities for you to really succeed in the world while making positive changes,” he says. “And I really hope that a lot more students, through their participation in HUMAN Capital, take that approach as well.”
What are you listening to?
"On Purpose with Jay Shetty" (podcast) and Beyoncé
What’s your favorite place in Madison?
The nature trails of Picnic Point. It’s nice to run out there, escape the activity of campus, and be surrounded by only trees and the lake.
What’s one of your favorite hobbies?
Who inspires you?
My parents. They’ve given me so much and taught me about what it means to be a good person and a leader. I’ve won the lottery of life.