Stefan R. Bradham
Senior Director, Marketing and Communications
American Health Law Association
How long have you been a member of AMADC?
About 15 years.
Tell us about your professional background.
I grew up in the operations of credit unions, ultimately running a branch at my first credit union before completing my undergrad in Marketing and International Business from the University of Maryland. This background in operations would follow me into each marketing role I took.
At my next credit union, as a Marketing Manager, I was finishing my Master’s in Marketing from Johns Hopkins while at the same time taking over the IT Department, then Business Development, then Branch Operations.
Trying to get back to marketing, I switched industries to a scientific federation but within two years, began to expand my role: taking over the advertising service line, then membership services, client relations, and ultimately overseeing our Society Management Services (an association management company within the Federation, focused on helping small-to-mid sized biomedical associations reach their missions).
It was then that I joined my current organization, a legal association. I was not two months in, still learning my own role as Director of Marketing and Communications, when I was asked to oversee the Distance Learning department! I could not believe it… here I was in operations yet again! But this time, the ask was only temporary.
In hindsight, straddling the marketing-ops line for over 15 years has taught me two things: my happiness lies in marketing but my focus on operations truly enhances my ability to market, and it ensures I am at the table for any meaningful discussions and decisions. And this is where I feel marketing should be – at the table, every time. Marketing is about connecting the operations and output of an organization with targeted end users – for me, it is hard to separate marketing and operations, and since I can’t seem to get away from this combination, I am now fully embracing it.
What attracted you to the marketing profession? What keeps you inspired?
I knew even in high school I had a passion for marketing. In a random discussion of life with my best friend, she blurted out that if I took my marketing skillset corporate, she wasn’t sure she could ever respect me. Taken by surprise, I knew helping those in need ran through her veins, but I had never thought my marketing skillset could be used for “evil”, as she saw the corporate world.
That exchange impacts me to this day – you have a business mind but do good; you can sell but don’t deceive; you lead organizations but never forget the individual. Then, during my tenure at the University of Maryland, I began working as a teller at a credit union; a convergence of for-profit and non-profit. It was about service and treating the consumer as a member, meeting individual needs and goals which in turn and only after, meant the organization succeeded.
I grew up professionally in this not-for-profit environment and ultimately where I began marketing. These two experiences have shaped my career and driven me to couple my corporate mindset with giving back; organizing operations and marketing to generate profit but only in support of those we serve.
How long have you been a mentor with the Marketing Mentors Network?
I’m a newbie, this is my first year as a mentor.
What made you decide to join the Marketing Mentors Network?
I joined the program as a protégé a few years ago. It was such a well-designed program that was incredibly helpful to me in reaching my goals at the time, to prepare myself and my resume to take the next step in my career. I came back to the program as a mentor in hopes of giving back, to help someone else reach their goals and advance their career.
What is your favorite part about being a mentor?
Protégés are driven, with fresh perspectives, and they have a ton of experience. I truly enjoy the give and take, sharing my knowledge and direction and receiving just as much back in return. There have been several times where I’ve said “You know what, I’m going to steal that!“ Not only do I mean it, but it also gives them additional confidence, that they got this, that they can reach the goals they set for themselves because they are rock star marketers.
What would you say to others considering becoming a mentor?
Think of all of the folks in and outside of marketing that have given you a nudge, been a sounding board, challenged your thinking, been a cheerleader on the sidelines... we are all in need of a mentor in any stage of our career and we can all serve as a mentor in any stage of our career. And with the AMADC Marketing Mentors Network, you will have the support you need, as a new or experienced mentor, from the program’s leadership and its other mentors. Why not pay it forward and give back this year?
What advice do you have for up-and-coming marketers in your field?
Understand the operations of the organization; be the end-user advocate. Many times, it’s the marketing department that needs to step up and say, this doesn’t make sense... the registration process is too cumbersome... no one can find this content as placed... the pricing model is too complicated... It’s not just about the right messaging at the right time to the right audience. If the operations behind where you drive the end-user don’t make sense to the end-user, your marketing will never reach its full potential. Be the marketing-ops person that ties it all together!
Learn more about Stefan here.
Interested in learning more about the Marketing Mentors Network? Catch up on the 2019-20 program here.