Portrait of alumni Sam Nana-Sinkam, ’10

Sam Nana-Sinkam ’10, Management

June 26, 2019

The interplay between the classroom and the field taught me a lot about how to relate to people, think long term and build confidence in others.

Sam Nana-Sinkam '10's career at Google combines two of his long-standing interests: sports and business — both of which drew him to Bucknell. 

Nana-Sinkam, whose father worked for the United Nations, grew up largely in sub-Saharan Africa, in Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. During grade school, conflict in western Africa prompted his mother to move back to Lancaster, Pa., with Sam and his three siblings in tow. Seeking to participate in American culture, he began playing football and was eventually recruited by Bucknell.

Nana-Sinkam knew going in that he wanted to study business management. The marketing and management courses he took "had an enormous impact on my life," he says. "I was forced to really think in terms of true business application. These classes sort of rewired my brain towards understanding why I was learning these strategies and concepts, as well as why these lessons would be important five, 10 or 15 years down the road."

Playing football for the Bison gave Nana-Sinkam the opportunity to take theoretical concepts of leadership, communication and organizational hierarchy and put them into practice. "That interplay between the classroom and the field taught me a lot about how to relate to people, think long term and build confidence in others, along with many other lessons," he says. Enduring five surgeries during his time on the team taught him resilience, he adds. 

During his junior year, Nana-Sinkam interned at Target's headquarters in Minneapolis, where he began working as a business analyst upon graduation. After two years, he took a job with Google in New York City to be closer to his girlfriend — and now wife — Sara Bloom '10. 

In his current role at Google, he builds partnerships with fashion, sports and toy companies and helps them figure out how to best utilize advertising platforms like YouTube and Google search. "Every day is different and I get to work surrounded by smart, driven people," he says. Moreover, the concepts he learned in his business classes at Bucknell have stayed with him: "I still reference some of the takeaways in my job to this day," he says.