They say you can’t go home again. Scott Branham is proof that you can — again and again — and that you can make it better, too.
Finding home, however, was a bit of a journey for him.
“I first went to a small college to be an engineer, went to engineering school, had internships in the field – and realized I didn’t have a passion for the profession long-term,” says the Parkersburg native.
“I transferred into WVU at the beginning of my junior year and bounced around a bit. I formally selected five or six majors, and it wasn’t until I went through a communications course at B&E that I realized my passion was for business.”
“I didn’t want to be a traditional businessperson — an accountant, or banker per se — but I knew I had that passion for business,” Branham says. “I wouldn’t have found it on my own though.”
“Walking through the business landscape with my professors helped me see that there were other aspects of these disciplines than what I saw on the College’s website.”
After graduating, Branham chose to become a consultant, specializing in informational technology, business process improvement and strategic planning. A decade passed, and thanks to his breadth of expertise, he quickly moved up the corporate ladder.
However, he could only go so far with the knowledge he had. To break through, he’d need a stronger technical background to confidently communicate his recommendations.
So, after a decade of working in industry, Branham returned to Chambers.
The college had grown in the time he’d been away. There were more options, more ideas, more resources. The students were thriving like never before.
Just like that, the giving-back bug sunk its teeth into Branham, and it never let go.
“People were trying to make the college, the university, the state better. I wanted to be part of the solution — to be a voice for the college in my industry, a reference for students to lean on, a point of contact for faculty and staff.”
As a graduate student in the Business Data Analytics (BUDA) program, Branham was one of the brains behind Data Driven West Virginia, which has since become one of the Chambers College’s flagship outreach centers. Primarily a volunteer-based organization, Data Driven WV continues to help businesses across the state succeed.
Recognizing Branham’s unique experience and drive to give back, Professor Brad Price connected him with the Center for Career Development. That was the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship which continues to this day.
Branham’s volunteer work with the CCD began with guest lecturing, and quickly turned into career mentorship. He makes himself available to all students however they need him. That could mean giving pointers on their resumes, sitting down for a conversation about career paths, or offering advice on how to succeed in the workforce.
In doing so, he sets the same example his professors once set for him.
“There’s a misconception that you need to have a special connection, a specific plan, a unique skillset. I want students to know I’m a normal guy from a normal town who went to this university also and has experienced professional success.”
“Doing all of those things with a servant’s heart is what led to me joining the Visiting Committee.”
One of the Visiting Committee’s newest members, Branham now helps advise the Chambers College at the highest levels. However, he still hasn’t forgotten how he started: as a high school graduate trying to find his place.
“I’m proud to go back and see how the Chambers College has grown,” Branham says, “Not just because of me, but because of everyone I’ve met who’s giving their time and resources. It takes a group effort.”
“That’s the best part of being a West Virginian: that innate desire to make something better for the next person than when we first found it.”
CONTACT: Andrew Marvin
WVU John Chambers College of Business and Economics, Strategic Communications