Alex Shumate thrives by working with others to help Columbus grow

No time to sit back

Alex Fischer, president and CEO of The Columbus Partnership, sees Shumate as a powerful connector between the community and Ohio State, bridging the town and gown relationship and leveraging both to make everyone stronger. He says Shumate knows the value of long-term relationships.

“He is always available, always present and most importantly, highly engaged in our discussions and strategies,” Fischer says.

“Alex has this affable, engaging personality. He goes out of his way to seek and understand other people’s perspective on issues. I think that kind of approach puts people at ease, and people who can put others at ease end up being good connectors and relationship people.”
Alex Fischer, president and CEO, The Columbus Partnership

Shumate and his firm were also a key part of the creation of Columbus 2020, helping the partnership put the organization together.

“I think you’d be hard pressed to find anybody in Columbus who wouldn’t have a good thing to say about Alex. He’s universally respected by Democrats and Republicans and leaders at the State House and City Hall and business leaders throughout the community,” Fischer says.

But while Columbus is doing well in terms of economic development and downtown development, Shumate isn’t ready to sit back.

“Sometimes you can start thinking you can rest on your laurels. But again, being thoughtful about your strategy and not being complacent I think is something that we’re focused on,” he says.

That’s especially important in a city like Columbus, Shumate says. It has a very active business community that understands how the quality of life is important to the business environment.

Shumate sees great momentum right now at Squire Patton Boggs, Ohio State and with the Columbus business climate.

“The key is to continue to do those things that have created that momentum and not to become complacent — and to be open to innovation and collaboration and teamwork,” he says. “I’m a very strong believer of client service teams for the law firm; strategic planning teams for the university; and for partnering with community organizations.”

 

Takeaways:

  • Avoid complacency; keep doing what created momentum in the first place.
  • Teams are the most effective when the mission comes first.
  • Seek to understand as well as be understood when collaborating.

 

The Shumate File:

Name: Alex Shumate
Title: Managing Partner, Columbus
Company: Squire Patton Boggs

Born: DeKalb, Mississippi, but I grew up in Sandusky
Education: Bachelor’s in political science from Ohio Wesleyan University and a law degree from the University of Akron

Did you have much business training or did you learn more on the job? Believe it or not, for several years, I taught a business law course at Franklin University here in Central Ohio. So, I spent a lot of time reading and getting prepared for that. I also took a number of business and economic courses in undergrad and business organization in law school tracks, etc.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it? My first job would have been cutting grass for my neighborhood. I think I learned the value of hard work. I also worked at Cedar Point, which I enjoyed. When you’re going from cutting grass and sweating like mad in people’s yards, working on a roller coaster is fun.

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received? There’s this expression Les Wexner said that: ‘the main thing is the main thing.’ What he means by that is — as I’ve interpreted it — really figure out what’s important and spend the majority of your time focusing on that. Remember that the main thing is the main thing.

When you’re not working, serving on boards or doing things in the community, what else do you like to do? I am a weekend warrior tennis player. I love to play tennis.