Brandon Ward’s Trip from B2B On Pitch to B2B On Point
While indeed spectacular, it isn’t the least bit surprising to discover that Brandon Ward, Senior Vice President of Juniper by IMC, was an All-American collegiate soccer player with championship rings on his fingers and goal-scoring bells on his toes. His position as a center midfielder playing his initial B2B role (box-to-box, in this case) required unique technical talent and ability along with clear, discerning vision, and was the undoubted forerunner (literally AND figuratively!) to his current masterful role in the land of B2B ecommerce.
As he manages the strategy, design, and implementation of the large-scale digital transformation that is Juniper, there is daily evidence of Ward’s commitment to title-worthy team effort and cooperation. His hallmark eagerness to play—shirtsleeves rolled up, with all those on the field, including into overtime—remains intact and integral to his approach to life.
And the competitive fire that contributed to multiple Big Ten Championships is the same rocket fuel launching his daily efforts to maximize his own personal potential along with every member of his Juniper team as they re-use, revise, and repurpose assignments, strategies, even players.
"When you’re a professional athlete, you realize you can’t always win, so you’re just really competitive in terms of your own performance and maximizing your own potential. So that’s how I think … the teamwork comes into play in work all the time. If somebody on the team is down for whatever reason, or needs help or support for whatever reason, then you just learn to pick up for them and help them."
What WAS surprising is that he is also a musician, and that Ward sees this facet of himself as less the yin to his athletic yang and more as an equal-but-not-opposite ingredient in the amalgamated foundation of his synthesizing, puzzle-solving, and improvisational character. He credits his musician father for this elemental feature of both his work and his leisure – it’s not just a #ratemyroom prop when Ward joins a Zoom meeting with a piano in the background.
Today's Playing Field
Ward made IMC his playing field about five years ago. He found like-minded teammates here who were looking to be transformative about the industry they knew and loved. Often, the digital side of business is about maintenance but, from the beginning, IMC leadership saw a future creating even more value for something already of distinctive and significant value. More importantly, they all shared a common ethos of Human-centered Design: the products and services they envisioned developing were in direct response to the needs of IMC clients and customers.
With this intentional design approach, the problem-solving starts with people and ends with customized innovative solutions, and Ward brings to Juniper by IMC exactly that ability, experience, and passion. The same young Energizer Bunny of a soccer player who couldn’t be scooted off the field because he just wouldn’t stop running is now devoting his ceaseless energies to creating the newest technological means towards a very human-focused end.
The ongoing conversation of what comes next for our customers
That end is actually a bit of an illusion. It’s more like the goal at the end of the soccer field or the New Year’s Eve Times Square ball dropping us from one year into the next. There will always be more to do, more to create, more to meet evolving needs. And here at Juniper, there is the fervent heart to continue doing so. Which is why Ward will tell you that, yes, “This IS a once in a lifetime opportunity” in pioneering a new future for B2B commerce, even as it comes in the face of compounded, almost confounding once-in-a-lifetime challenges.
"Product development is both generative—you have to find time for generative thinking like, ‘What comes next?’—and then you also have to be evaluative. You have to analyze and look and see what’s wrong with what you already have so you can fix it. Product development is just like creating art and design, you’re just looking to improve outcomes."
Today's Playing Field
Right now, the divot-dotted field of challenges includes keeping up with the accelerated and turned-on-its-pandemic-head pace of digital commerce while continuing to build, form, and reform. And, just like 20 or so years ago, successfully overcoming these challenges is made possible by professionals who have chosen to become a team and then bonded into family. This is a team of kindred-spirit thinkers, still growing daily, who keep the ideas fresh, are constantly innovating, and provide unequaled all-star depth on the bench.
Our favorite team – the Juniper All Stars ⭐⭐⭐
How is this pace possible? Just like watching the play of your favorite pro sports team or legendary guitarist, one wonders while watching in awe. (Well, unless you’re a Seattle Mariners fan...not all that much awe inspired there, tbh.) But, in a dichotomy quite familiar to creatives, the only way to have energy to spend is to be fed energy, as well as make the time to rest and reset.
"What’s really interesting about this company and this business is that I really enjoy the Markets and trade shows. To me, they’re really busy and it’s very frantic, but it’s also a great way to reset because you see the passion people have for their business. Believe it or not, I think I use the shows as a way to get myself reinvigorated about my job. I feed off the energy of the show and the community … and go home, motivated."
Ward made a special point of acknowledging deep gratitude for his Juniper family, along with its unique opportunities. “I’m so lucky and grateful to have the people that came with the acquisitions that made Juniper who we are. They came, trusting me with their babies, “ Ward marveled. “We have this great vision, this great strategy, and all these great team members on board.”
So, that’s how you’ll find them, on any given day: as seamlessly connected as the Juniper solutions they have created and are evolving, all while applying a very human perspective derived—like Ward’s—from their own connections and experiences.
"Juniper represents people that already serve our industry and share our vision … We’re just bringing them together and adding more ingredients. We saw there was a need there, and the need got even bigger and more important and more accelerated, so we’re really lucky to be in the position we’re in … helping our customers."
"That’s what I love about my job. "