Born in Richland, Washington, Jeff Davis graduated from Gonzaga University with degrees in finance and marketing. After working briefly in an unsatisfying job in finance, Jeff conducted business analysis and then program management at Microsoft. He then worked at two consulting startups, contracted at various places, including the foundation, where he finally started full time in 2011. At the foundation, Jeff’s goal is to work with program staff to derive insights from their data and make that information accessible and understandable to his colleagues. His job allows others “to spend their brainpower on what they can learn from the numbers and apply it to their projects.” Jeff talks about the compensation package, fulfilling his professional personal dream, Kurt Cobain, and John Mayer.
My first month here was incredible. I met a lot of people and read internally about their achievements, and then I would find myself standing next to them in the elevator, and I’d say, “Hi. I just read about you and you’re amazing.”
Part of my compensation in working at the foundation headquarters is the people you meet and the scenarios in which you get to participate. Jimmy Carter's conversation here was nothing short of inspiring. But it’s not just famous people. There are so many multitalented people from all over the world here, it's amazing.
Why did I want to work here? When I was in high school, Bill Gates announced the U.S. Libraries Program, whose mission was to connect all U.S. libraries to the Internet. It was the 90s and everyone thought Kurt Cobain was a visionary, but I was more blown away and awe-inspired by the fact that the world’s richest man was giving back for the public good. My mom asked me where I wanted to work after graduation and I said, “For Bill Gates.” It’s a bit of a personal dream to be here.
Regardless of the endowments and investments, the foundation is still a relatively small organization. That means it goes fast, then slows down to assess its needs. The foundation has little hierarchy, which creates for fewer opportunities for upward mobility but a much greater sense of equality.
I've always viewed my success as reflected through the successes of those around me. Being a supporting actor is just as important as playing the lead.
At lunch here, the table talk is diverse but always returns to helping people. There are great social activities like the “Foundation’s Got Talent” show that is put on, where people showcase their talents and everyone is very supportive. You’ll hear Irish harp or classical Indian music. I played a John Mayer tune on guitar. Music, philosophy, and art are the things that transcend cultures, which is what it means to be human. The foundation creates an environment that speaks to all aspects of our shared humanity. It’s a great place to be.