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All you need is love: Scott Andrews brings compassion to leadership 

A first-generation American citizen, Scott Andrews (BSB, 2007) has learned the hard way how to manage his time, prioritize his goals and find his leadership style. But life, as they say, is a good teacher. So are the right mentors. Andrews currently serves as the assistant city manager in Bakersfield, California, and one mentor who helped guide Andrews on his path to working in city government sees his former mentee doing the guiding today:

“Every successful career requires three committed types of relationships: an older person to be your mentor, some faithful peers to walk with you on the journey and a younger person to [carry on] your legacy,” observes Randall Reid, Southeast Regional director of the International City/County Management Association.

“Scott has been the younger professional for me, and I see him now successfully playing these roles for other professionals in local government.”

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The human touch

In his current role as assistant city manager, Andrews is used to connecting with people. His frank demeanor and ready smile underscore what for him is the most important part of servant leadership: approaching everyone with love.

Scott Andrews, Assistant City Manager of Bakersfield

Scott Andrews (BSB)

Assistant City Manager of Bakersfield

“‘Lead with love’ is my mantra and the name of my slowly growing consulting business,” Andrews says. “I’m not half as smart as most of my department is. I’ll be the first to admit that I think you get to your position by your EQ, not your IQ. And I definitely see that empathy, that vulnerability, as superpowers.” 

Accordingly, Andrews brings a compassionate perspective to each part of his job, whether it’s passing a budget or building a brand for Bakersfield. In this way, Andrews feels he can enhance his impact in a role he loves.

“Local government is more than a career, it is my calling,” Andrews says. “So many people get fired up over Biden, Trump, Obama, etc. However, the biggest impact can be felt at the local level. We pass a nearly $800 million budget in my community with very little input from citizens. It’s disappointing, but it is also why I do what I do: reach people where they are and make an impact in my little piece of the world.”

According to Andrews, that impact can be profound. City managers, he says, do “what most people think a mayor does.” That is to say, they oversee day-to-day operations of a city, including police and fire services, public works, utilities providers and airport operations.

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Taking the scenic route

City management is a natural fit for him, Andrews says. But it is a role he had to work hard to attain.

Growing up in Florida, Andrews spent a lot of time with his grandmother, Violet. (His parents immigrated to the U.S. from Canada and had been young when they had him.) After high school, Andrews headed to a state university, but the freedom and the parties led him astray. He failed out of the university and, later, a community college. Instead, he prioritized earning money as a personal trainer.

“When I got to be 23, I didn’t even have an associate degree from my combined credits [at] university [and college],” Andrews recalls. “I started seeing my friends graduate, and that’s when it kind of hit home that, hey, I’d better get this together or that same $30,000 or $40,000 [I’m earning] will probably be my ceiling.”

Andrews was living out of his car and at friends’ houses, and he was struggling. This low point delivered the motivation he needed to return to school. “When I stopped blaming it on everything else and I took the credit and blame myself, that’s when I finally got my act together,” he says.

He enrolled at University of Phoenix, where he completed a bachelor’s degree in business in 2007.

“My ‘four-year degree’ took me almost 11 years,” Andrews says, “but I would then go on to knock out my MPA and doctorate [at different schools] in seven years combined.”

Against this educational backdrop, Andrews got his foot in the door of local government. He laughs that he joined his first HOA board when he was 18 (and not, for the record, as an actual homeowner). He’d also originally planned to major in political science.

These interests culminated when, as a small business owner and personal trainer, he became the fitness coordinator for the City of Temple Terrace in Florida as part of the Parks & Recreation Department.

Randall Reid, Southeast Regional director of the International City/County Management Association

Randall Reid
Southeast Regional Director of the International City/County Management Association

About this time, he connected with Reid. “I was a county manager in Florida … and was recognized as a known mentor to several younger individuals,” Reid explains. “Scott reached out at an event and discussed his desire to become a city manager. … We later had lunch and phone calls, and it was clear he was asking for a mentorship opportunity.”

Reid got on board, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

The road to success

Andrews got married, moved to Georgia and then to California where, as assistant city manager, he currently helps oversee California’s ninth largest city.

He also learned some mean time-management skills along the way, and he leverages them even today. Time blocking and setting expectations are key to getting everything done, he says. Such tactics allowed him to not only maintain his full-time career but mentor others, manage his consulting firm and, in 2023, launch a nonprofit organization as well.

The last of these, The Violet Movement, was founded in memory of Andrews’ daughter. Born in January 2023, she was named after his grandmother but passed away from vasa previa two days after her birth. The Violet Movement offers eight different scholarships.

His daughter’s passing rocked Andrews’ world and led him to write a book on grief management, which he hopes to complete this spring.

Andrews isn’t done yet. He accomplished certain goals in his previous city management roles, and he has plans for Bakersfield. While California’s bigger cities struggle with crime, homelessness and population decline, Bakersfield has experienced population growth and decreased homicide rates, Andrews says.

Joyfully, Andrews and his wife are expecting their second child this March.

Throughout it all, Andrews brings an openness and sincerity to everything he touches. These qualities are what impressed Reid at the outset and convinced him Andrews was going places.

“I was quickly impressed by Scott due to his very positive and friendly presence and outgoing personality,” Reid elaborates. “Scott further impressed me as … emotionally intelligent, dedicated to public service and, by nature, a remarkably humble and earnest man.”

That humility was what helped Andrews turn his life around in his mid-20s. It’s what led him into a career in public service. And it is what now guides him as he works toward making a difference in Bakersfield and, perhaps down the road, in the world at large as a consultant, teacher and author.

All you need, after all, is love.

Portrait of Elizabeth Exline

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elizabeth Exline has been telling stories ever since she won a writing contest in third grade. She's covered design and architecture, travel, lifestyle content and a host of other topics for national, regional, local and brand publications. Additionally, she's worked in content development for Marriott International and manuscript development for a variety of authors.

 

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