Young Professional 2017: Patrick Conrad

Patrick Conrad, Communications specialist at Mission Support Alliance

Patrick Conrad

Patrick Conrad (Courtesy Rich Breshears of Breshears Photography)

Age: 37

Hometown: Olympia, Washington

Describe the company: As the Hanford Site integrator, Mission Support Alliance provides the best in critical infrastructure site services to the Department of Energy and Hanford cleanup contractors, allowing them to focus their energies on the cleanup mission.

What brought you to the Tri-Cities? I was looking for the next step in my career and my wife, who grew up in Richland, wanted to move back home to be around family.

Do you have any family? Pets? I’m married with a 20-month-old son, a baby on the way, and a dog named Addie.

Tell us about your job/career and how you got into it: I’m a communications specialist for Mission Support Alliance, or MSA, a contractor for the Department of Energy on the Hanford site. I became interested in communications after a conversation with my parents while I was at community college. After graduating from Washington State University, I worked in radio broadcasting for four years before entering the communications industry at the state Department of Transportation, or WSDOT, and then eventually landing at MSA.

Tell us about your business philosophy: Communication and relationship-building are important tools in building a successful business or career. When these two traits are mixed together, I believe only good can happen. We are presented with a unique challenge at Hanford. With more than 9,000 employees and a variety of projects happening all at once, communication is our most important tool. Without a positive relationship, your message can be misinterpreted.

How do you stay competitive in your industry? My industry isn’t cutthroat, or an “everyone looks out for themselves” kind of industry. However, I’m always looking for opportunities to improve myself and find new ways of revamping current methods and procedures. I’m constantly researching trainings and seminars that will give me the chance to learn from others and to improve my craft as a communications professional.

What are you future career goals? In addition to constantly improving myself as a professional, my ultimate goal is to be the leader of a communications team. I’ve had some experience as the fill-in director of our team at MSA and it has given me a taste for the leadership role and it’s something I’m determined to reach one day. Since I won’t make it as a professional athlete, I would love to head up the communications team for a pro franchise. But if working in sports doesn’t happen, I would love to find a communications team to lead.

Who are your mentors and what did they teach you? I’ve been blessed to have several mentors. This includes my parents, teachers who told me to keep my head up and smile, my boss at WSDOT who pushed me to believe in myself and to keep improving, and my current mentor at MSA who provides real-world expertise and advice for how to advance in my career. All of these people have molded me into the person I am today. I will be forever grateful for their wisdom and support.

What was the toughest business/career decision you had to make? The toughest choice for me was leaving a comfortable position at WSDOT for a new career in a new town where I didn’t have any contacts. Eventually, struggles and sleepless nights left me wondering if I made a mistake leaving Seattle, and a job I was good at, and had invested a lot of time and energy into. It was through this experience I met my current boss and landed back on my feet in the communications industry.

What do you like most about what you do? My job has made me realize that working in the communications industry is my calling and what I was meant to do. Along the way I have tried a couple different industries and quickly realized that they weren’t for me. It’s been a long journey full of ups and downs, tears and smiles, but finding a home at MSA has been humbling, satisfying and has given me the opportunity to wake up every day with a smile on my face and enjoy going to work.

What do you dislike most about your job? It’s hard for me to point to anything that I dislike about my job. I’ve been lucky enough to find a good place with wonderful people and great management. With a lot of negativity in the public about Hanford, the hardest part of my job is trying to get out positive news stories and promoting the great work happening at the site.

What was your first job and what did you learn there? My first job was in high school as a maintenance worker on the golf course in my neighborhood. Besides learning how to cut a green and rake a sand trap, I learned the value of hard work and the importance of molding a mixing pot of personalities and experiences together to complete a task. In this case, keeping the golf course in excellent condition. I have kept this value with me to every job that I’ve had.

Tell us about your community involvement/community service: As a recent graduate of Leadership Tri-Cities Class 22, our class project focused on improving and expanding the barn and stables for TROT. TROT promotes the physical, psychological and social well-being of persons with disabilities through their interaction with a therapeutic team of horse, dog, instructor, therapist and volunteers. I’ve also participated with Junior Achievement as an instructor and in the bowling tournament. I also help out with MSA’s various community involvement activities.

What word best describes you? Passionate

What is your biggest flaw? Rushing through a document I’ve written and not taking the time to slow down and re-read it word for word.

What is your biggest pet peeve? When driving and you stop to let another car into traffic and they don’t acknowledge the nice gesture and wave.

What do you do to relieve stress? Hanging out with my family and going for walks.

Dream vacation? Cruising the mountains of Colorado.

Favorite book? “11/22/63” by Stephen King

Favorite movie? “Field of Dreams”

Favorite band? Matchbox 20

Favorite gadget? Apple Watch

Favorite website? ESPN.com

Favorite thing to do in the Tri-Cities? Hanging out in the sunshine and playing golf with friends.

What thing would people be most surprised to learn about you? I’m claustrophobic. I do not like being in confined places. When it comes to riding on airplanes, I need to sit on the aisle, so I can stretch my legs and move around.

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