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To alumnus Sean Valentine, president and CEO of Western Wyoming Beverages Inc., being a University of Wyoming Cowboy represents pride, power, work ethic and integrity.
Pride: “Being a UW Cowboy is a legacy of representing not only all of the graduates that have come before you, all of those that will follow you, but also the entire state of Wyoming: UW is Wyoming’s university,” Valentine says.
Those who have walked through an airport wearing a Wyoming bucking horse will get a sense of that pride, as someone will undoubtedly say, “Go Pokes” or “Powder River, let ’er buck.” But to Valentine, that bucking horse also represents the other traits on his list.
Power: UW has produced corporate CEOs, Nobel Prize winners, New York Times bestselling authors, award-winning journalists, sports franchise owners and a vice president of the United States. “The amazing thing about Wyoming’s power is that the vast majority have never lost their sense of humility and genuine character,” Valentine says.
Work ethic: A strong work ethic is part of the Wyoming culture. This includes doing more with less, letting your actions speak louder than words and a sense of responsibility—knowing if you don’t do it, nobody will do it for you, he says.
Integrity: Valentine defines integrity as doing what is right when nobody is watching and acting with honesty and fairness in all situations. In Wyoming, a small town with long streets, integrity is even more important.
Valentine graduated from UW in 2012 with a degree in marketing and a minor in accounting and went on to earn his MBA in 2013. “My education at UW was critical for preparing me for my role with Western Wyoming Beverages and as a community leader,” he says. Western Wyoming Beverages is a Pepsi and Budweiser bottler/wholesaler in western Wyoming.
“UW was by far the best decision I've made in my life,” Valentine says. As a student, he was able to work as an intern and then marketing assistant in the Athletics Department, where he learned to balance the demands of a busy schedule and gained an introduction to management. Valentine says the MBA program taught him how to think critically about business decisions, how to be an entrepreneur, how to work as a team, how to network and how build lasting relationships. During the MBA program, he also experienced a once-in-lifetime trip to Germany, learned about Wyoming's critical energy economy through a statewide energy tour and went backpacking in the Wind Rivers for a week to learn teamwork, resilience, leadership and humility.
“While at UW I also learned the value of community,” Valentine says. “Nowhere else in the country are so many people willing to literally give you the shirt off their back to help you out. This spurred my desire to make sure that whatever I did in life I had to give back to the community and be an active member in civic engagement.”
His role with Western Wyoming Beverages has allowed him to do just that. Since becoming president, the company branded its corporate giving/philanthropy as “Western Wyoming Beverages - Delivering a Better Wyoming” and has doubled down on its giving.
“The event I'm most proud of is our annual Cans for Cans and Packing Out Hunger events where we collect canned food for our local food bank and then bring all of our employees together to pack meals for the Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies,” Valentine says. “In 2017 we packed 30,000 meals, and in 2018 we did 50,000 meals.”
The company is also involved in growing community events, including the National High School Finals Rodeo and Wyoming's Big Show. It donates over $130,000 annually to different organizations and community events throughout southwest Wyoming.
Valentine also serves on the UW Alumni Association board of directors, helps with Cowboy Joe Club, has served on the Sweetwater County Young and Professional Group board of directors and serves on the local organizing committee for Blues ‘n’ Brews, an annual beer festival and music event hosted in Rock Springs.
He recommends UW to Wyoming’s youth for a variety of reasons, including the fact it’s large enough to meet friends from many places while still feeling at home. “Wyoming offers an unmatched ability to step outside of your comfort zone, get experiences and opportunities that you would never get at another university, build relationships not only with other students but with faculty and staff, all at an incredible value.”
When reflecting on what it means to be a UW Cowboy, Valentine says, “Being a Cowboy is honestly the biggest honor I could ever have. I'm SO proud to be a Cowboy and University of Wyoming graduate.”
Sean Valentine was A featured speaker at the event on January 25, 2020
Rock Springs | Bunning Hall at the Freight Station