URI Research Foundation’s Rumsey was always dedicated to serve

ON THE BATTLEFIELD: University of Rhode Island Research Foundation Chief Business ­Development Officer Peter Rumsey graduated from Cornell University with the U.S. Air Force ­Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and served during the Gulf War as an electronic combat officer. 
PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY
ON THE BATTLEFIELD: University of Rhode Island Research Foundation Chief Business ­Development Officer Peter Rumsey graduated from Cornell University with the U.S. Air Force ­Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and served during the Gulf War as an electronic combat officer. 
PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY

PBN C-Suite 2024 Awards
CAREER ACHIEVER: Peter Rumsey
University of Rhode Island Research Foundation | Chief business development officer


Peter Rumsey admits it’s hard to stop the clock on his working life, especially when it has taken him around the world over the last three decades.

Whether it was his time serving in the military, working in private industry, or now serving as the chief business development officer for the University of Rhode Island Research Foundation, professional accomplishments were aplenty for Rumsey.

And he feels he’s just getting started.

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“I’m not done yet; I’m just getting good,” Rumsey said. “I’m also very aware that there are many people more worthy than me, but I’m doing my best to help others be successful.”

URI Research Foundation Executive Director Christian Cowan called his colleague Rumsey “the epitome of [an] example of C-suite success.”

“I believe C-Suite Award winners should demonstrate hands-on leadership in both large and small companies, and honest compassion for employees and community,” Cowan wrote. “His leadership is the type of success and engagement that should be recognized.”

From U.S. Air Force captain to world-traveling private-sector powerhouse and entrepreneurial success, and now as an esteemed mentor within the nonprofit space, Rumsey’s career trajectory has been full of turns that have, he says, allowed for self-discovery while working alongside remarkably diverse sets of people.

The upstate New York native graduated from Cornell University with the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and served during the Gulf War as an electronic combat officer.

After decades in the private sector, Rumsey joined R.I. Commerce Corp. as director of the Rhode Island Innovation Campus in 2017 by invitation from then-Gov. Gina M. Raimondo. He joined the URI Research Foundation four years later.

In his current role, Rumsey directs growth strategies to achieve the foundation’s mission and goals in overseeing market analysis, commercialization of protected intellectual property, and development of corporate and government partnerships.

“It’s been extremely fulfilling to be more about others and giving back,” he said. “I’m most happy to have [been] surrounded by really talented human beings that I could learn from.”

Cowan said that Rumsey has embraced a work-hard, play-hard approach to life throughout his career.

“It’s been incredible to see Pete focus on supporting our local economy and communities in a very different way … as he’s looking to drive economic development in the state,” he said. “It is really kind of grassroots. His focus on making a local difference is really impressive to me.”

Rumsey serves on the board of several organizations, including Innovate Newport and RIHub, and is board chairman for Leadership Rhode Island. Rumsey is also a 2019 Omicron Class graduate.

As an adjunct professor with URI’s College of Engineering, Rumsey is also helping to shape the next generation of Rhode Island leaders and embraces his role in coaching students. He says the most important thing for students is to understand how one processes the world, and to get a feeling for what makes other people thrive.

“Start to see and celebrate the differences in others,” Rumsey said.

Rumsey said he thrives in situations that offer him the opportunity to problem-solve and build teams based on differing talents and skill sets. One can have compatible personalities and shared values, but it’s best to have different strengths, he said.

Cowan points to Rumsey’s empathetic nature and high-energy nature as assets to his leadership and mentorship style.

“He’s great. He works like crazy and is a big team player. He likes to bring people in and be collaborative,” he said. “He’s also very sensitive to people’s feelings and making sure they are doing the best in their lives, too.”

After years of trying to maintain an idealized work-life, Rumsey eschews the notion in favor of a more pragmatic approach that he calls “work-life balancing.”

“You’re always slightly out of balance and every once in a while, you’re on one side,” he said. “You have to create cues and boundaries to purposefully stop and take care of the really important things.”

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