Volunteering to Lead: Darren Dupriest, B.B.A. ’91

By UM News

Volunteering to Lead: Darren Dupriest, B.B.A. ’91

By UM News
Q&A with UM Alumni Association Board of Directors member and devoted ’Cane Darren Dupriest, B.B.A. ’91.

Darren DupriestDarren Dupriest, B.B.A. ’91, is the founder and CEO of Validity Screening Solutions, an enterprise technology company specializing in background screening, substance abuse testing, and occupational health services. Dupriest has supported a range of programs, from athletics to student affairs, at the University of Miami. A member of Iron Arrow, he has served on the UM Alumni Association Board of Directors since 2016.

We touched base with the devoted ’Cane to learn about his work, time at the U, and the key to his success.

Why did you choose to pursue a career in your field?

After graduating from the Miami Business School, I joined the FBI and was fortunate to work with several squads that focused on specific areas of criminal justice. This was the work I wanted to do, but I was never able to shake the entrepreneurial spirit.

In joining the private sector, the opportunity to draw the two concepts together presented itself and I created Validity Screening Solutions, an employment screening and drug testing provider.

How has your time at the University of Miami helped in your career?

An exceptional academic environment aside, UM provided me the opportunity to become involved in so many tremendous organizations. As a freshman, I joined the editorial staff of the Ibis, which led to my serving as editor-in-chief twice. At 19, I was entrusted with the reigns of an active business with over 25 employees and a significant six-figure budget. My classes provided education between the theoretical lines, but being in charge of the yearbook, I learned so many business attributes that fell outside those lines.

What has been the key to your success?

Surrounding myself with high quality people, who are critical thinkers and not afraid to provide alternative ideas. Early in my tenure at UM, it became obvious that success, in any endeavor, would be more easily reached by working with others committed to the goal. Learning this has led to innumerable such efforts throughout my career. To this day, the majority of my business decisions are made only after group discussion.

What are some challenges you’ve faced along the way and how did you overcome them?

The current state of a world locked in a pandemic aside, every day presents some level of challenge, which is invigorating. The development of new or enhanced technology is ever-present. As a cloud-based enterprise in a compliance-laden industry, maintaining a secure, compliant, yet user-friendly platform is paramount.

New laws, whether federal or state, that affect employers, affect our operation. There have been numerous occasions that a state will enact a new law or regulation with no more than a 30-day effective date. We must determine how to account for all factors of the legislation within our platform in a short period of time all while making it graphically appealing.

Define a great leader — what are some traits you think they possess?

A great leader, of any type, must be a tremendous listener. There are a multitude of supplementary attributes, but phenomenal leaders listen and take the best features of many opinions and fashion them into a “best” decision. Sometimes, the key is hearing the unsaid.

Whether it come from clients, employees, or business partners, the more data one can consume will only lead to better quality actions.

What message would you send to other alumni and new grads?

Be persistent, do not settle and do not be unrealistic. Of course, in the days of COVID, professional flexibility may be restricted, but chart a course toward your personal objectives. Take a job that may not check all the boxes but ensure that you are able to obtain at least one significant experience or trait.

Take advantage of the amazing network of UM graduates. A simple LinkedIn search will introduce you to someone in your field of interest, probably near you. Throw up a virtual “U” and engage a conversation. ’Canes love to help ’Canes.

What was your dream job as a kid and why?

As a kid, I drew residential floorplans in graph paper notebooks. Houses constructed of cardboard and balsa wood seemed to have predestined me to a career in architecture. In fact, I was fortunate to have earned admittance and a scholarship to our School of Architecture. The dream was short-lived as I soon discovered that my ability had peaked, and I was probably better suited to be a homeowner than a home-designer.

Can you name a person who has been influential in your life? Why and how did this person impact your life?

It’s a bit of a trite response, but there have been so many. Most of whom have no idea that they made an impact. There are two significant and distinct influences that made lasting effects from my time at the University of Miami.

Dr. William Butler, the former Vice President of Student Affairs, was introduced to me quite briefly after I was elected editor of the Ibis. After what I believed to be an “introductory fly-by”, he called me into his office and asked me to have a seat. He proceeded to ask me about myself. As a 19-year old freshman, I was taken aback, but we sat and talked for quite awhile (turns out that one of his degrees was from the University of Kansas, which was 30 miles from my home). For such an important figure on campus to take the unscheduled time with me was inspiring. He made me feel important and most unforgettable about our time: he listened.

During my interview for that editor position, Norm Parsons was the chair of the Board of Student Publications. It was my first time meeting him and his first question to me was, “what is it that makes you think you are right for this job?” His question was designed to invite me to advocate for myself. It was a bit terrifying yet comforting at the same time. After the announcement that I had been elected, he said, “congratulations, now don’t let me down”. From that point, he served as a wonderful mentor and friend to this day.