10 to Watch

Xaykham Khamsyvoravong



What he does:
Vice President for Government and Institutional Banking, Webster Bank

What he’s done:

  • Fellowships at Harvard and Yale Law Schools
  • Master’s from Brown’s Taubman Center for Public Policy
  • Ran Frank Caprio’s campaigns for Treasurer and Governor
  • Deputy Chief of Staff for Treasurer Caprio
  • Conducted $1 billion of transactions in public infrastructure financing while working for Morgan Stanley
  • Direct mail campaigns for over a dozen candidates for federal office in the 2012 election cycle
  • All before his 30th birthday

Why we took notice:
He was recently appointed Chairman of the Providence Water Supply Board, replacing outgoing Chairman Brett Smiley, who used the position as a springboard to a mayoral campaign.

Why that matters:
In a state that is increasingly willing to entrust its fate to the next generation of politicians, Khamsyvoravong represents one of the emerging leaders of the next next generation, ready to ascend into more significant roles.

“Many of the interns and young staffers I hired while at the Treasury and running campaigns have since developed into leaders in our State’s policy and political arenas and now run substantial initiatives of their own.”

Why his position is important:
Providence Water serves over 600,000 customers (in a state of a million people) with a system built over 100 years ago that has 500 miles of cast iron pipe in need of lining or replacement.

“A core focus of mine is working with the Board to ensure that Providence Water’s team has the resources they need to coordinate water main replacements with other utility and infrastructure improvements undertaken in the City. We need to make sure our capital improvements are done once, done right, and done as quickly as possible to minimize the impact it has on our business community and residents.”

The pride of Providence:
“It’s hard for the public to have confidence in government’s dedication to doing the right thing when we’re constantly reading in the news about disability pension and workers compensation fraud. Providence Water’s story is different. I’m proud that Providence Water’s employees in the highest risk department – the construction road crews who are literally in the trenches – have gone almost 600 days without time lost due to workers compensation injury. All of government needs to embody this level of dedication to doing jobs well, and doing them right, if it wants the public to entrust it with hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure projects.”

How under-represented communities can make their voices heard:
“I think being able to effectively communicate and quantify their value are the two biggest challenges faced by under-represented communities. Organizations like Young Voices who coach young people, often from under represented communities, on how to speak in public and advocate for change, are incredibly important and effective. I also believe that work like the population specific data collection being conducted by the Center for Southeast Asians is incredibly important to adding quantifiable weight behind the voices of under-represented communities.”

How to develop young leadership:
“I’d advise any emerging leader to ‘pay it forward,’ by helping others find and start their own careers. In the same way we need to foster the initial careers of recent college grads, we need to foster the development of young leaders to prepare them to take the reins. Organizations and institutions must be willing to hire young professionals and support their community involvement in order for them to develop capable leaders.”

Advice for college grads looking to connect:
“People here really do want to help you succeed. But what you need to do is put yourself in a position to have those conversations. Pecha Kucha, Providence Geeks and Drinking Liberally are great incubators for those conversations to get people talking about their careers.”

Follow Xaykham on Twitter @XayRI

Xaykham Khamsyvoravong, 10 to watch, providence monthly


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