Country Roads, Take Me Home “My first real job, according to my parents, began upon my graduation from Marshall in 1986 with Pepsi Bottling Group,” he recalled. While obtaining his Bachelor of Business Administration with an emphasis in marketing, Brad worked as a lifeguard at Dreamland Pool in Kenova, West Virginia, taught martial arts and played gigs with his cousin’s rock band. These days, Brad enjoys physical exercise, particularly if it is water related. He does P90X every morning and holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. He is a musician who plays the saxophone and guitar. He loves all kind of music, as well as movies, citing those where the underdog wins as his favorite. While Brad never explicitly aspired to become a CEO, he describes the job offering as a surprising and humbling opportunity of a lifetime. “I set out to experience life, and my choices led me to this point,” he said. He firmly believes that there are characteristics that make people consider someone to be a leader, regardless of title, and teamwork is high on Brad’s list. “The best leaders remove barriers and focus on creating an environment where great ideas can come to life and strategy can make the leap from aspiration to reality. They thrive and get excited about becoming a better version of themselves, and the organization has to share that mindset. Great leaders stretch their teams intellectually, while investing in them emotionally. I encourage tomorrow’s leaders to fall in love with the problem and not their own solution,” he said. “My dad had a simple philosophy about making career choices that I adopted,” he states. “Choose a job that makes your heart beat fast, follow your passion; choose a company where you are surrounded by people smarter than you, that you can learn from; and make enough money to pay your bills, never prioritize money over the other two.” Teamwork and leadership are represented in what Brad refers to as his most memorable reflection of Marshall -- the 1984 Thundering Herd Football Season. It was the first winning season since the plane crash, the season where hard work and dedication laid a solid foundation for the football victories in the 1990s and today. “Many of the players were classmates and friends, and it was great to see years of struggle finally pay off,” he said. As a student, Brad’s favorite location on the Huntington campus was the Memorial Fountain. He, like many of today’s students, enjoyed hearing the water and witnessing the activity in the center of campus. As an alumnus, he loves the Foundation Hall’s foyer with the values encased in the floor and the architecture on the inside and outside of the building. “It is a beautiful celebration of the university, both past and present,” he said, adding that it might sound a little self-serving since it was recently renamed the Brad D. Smith Foundation Hall. In 2014, Brad and his wife, Alys, endowed a scholarship to enable more deserving West Virginia and Ohio residents to attend Marshall University. Naming the Foundation Hall in honor of Brad seemed appropriate because of the magnitude of this gift. Based on the belief that it is the foundation of which all else is built, Brad says, “education translates passion into potential and transforms today’s students into tomorrow’s leaders.” Through Brad’s generosity to his home state, it is easy to see he is in the service of making life better for others. In establishing the scholarship, he is following the example of his family, who always helped others. Brad recalls his mom sitting with the sick or elderly, donating clothing and ensuring the offering plate at Sunday School or church never passed without putting a little something in. “The lesson was clear,” Brad recalled. “No matter how much you may or may not have, always help others when you can.” On June 24, 12 counties in West Virginia were devastated by flooding. Brad not only pledged financial support, but offered free Intuit software to small businesses that had been destroyed. “It’s in my roots in West Virginia and all that it gave me that has inspired me to give back,” he said. “What I love about West Virginia is it is all about being a good son, father, neighbor and friend first; everything else is simply window dressing! I cherish the time I spend with my wife and two daughters, Payton and Devon. I can tell you I have been blessed, but I have never forgotten the fact that anything I have ever been able to achieve in my life has been because of people in West Virginia who believed in me and invested in me.” WWW.MARSHALL.EDU/FOUNDATION Pictured top: Brad supports the West Virginia flood relief effort. Center: Brad speaks at Marshall University’s Spring Commencement in 2014. Bottom: Brad with his wife, Alys.