Marketing Analytics Grad Student Pursues Life of Service
By Samantha Beavers
For Master of Management, Marketing Analytics graduate student Travis Galbraith, life has always been about service. From participating in mission trips to Mexico in middle school to serving as a captain in the U.S. Army, he has continually pursued opportunities to help others. And though marketing sometimes gets a bad rap, Galbraith believes it’s an industry that’s well-positioned to serve people.
In fact, that’s what drew him to the industry in the first place.
While transitioning out of active duty, Galbraith joined a fellowship program through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes – a nationwide initiative connecting the military community with American businesses. Through the fellowship program, Galbraith gained hands-on experience in the civilian workforce and landed a job with his current employer, Ecolab. For Galbraith, the fellowship program was a one-of-a-kind opportunity with just one problem: not enough people knew about it.
“The program does a phenomenal job of helping soldiers with college degrees transition to civilian life and prepare for success in the workforce – so I was pretty surprised when less than fifty soldiers transitioning out of the Army joined my cohort. When I talked with some of my units about it later, I realized that none of them had heard of it,” Galbraith explains.
He quickly realized that the gap in participation wasn’t because the fellowship was uninteresting or unnecessary – after all, the more he shared about his experience with others, the more interested they became. It needed better marketing.
“If more members of my brigade had known about this program, I believe they could have had an easier transition out of the military. That’s when I realized the true value of marketing and the important role it plays in raising awareness about things that truly help people,” he says.
For Galbraith, Hiring Our Heroes was also beneficial in that it helped him shift to a career that was right for him, which became important after he realized that becoming a lawyer – his original plan – wasn’t the best fit.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in economics and political science at Texas Christian University as an Army ROTC cadet, Galbraith completed law school at Louisiana State University through the Army’s Educational Delay program. He loved his time there, he says – and even went on to pass the Texas Bar. However, when thinking about the future through the lens of his greatest priorities, he knew that law wasn’t the path he wanted to take.
“During my time in law school, my wife worked as a paralegal at a large law firm in Baton Rouge. As I heard about that world from her perspective, I began to realize that a career in law wasn’t how I wanted to spend the rest of my life – especially not as I thought about starting a family,” he explains.
He decided to go into active duty not as a judge advocate but as an air defense artillery officer. During those four years, he was stationed in Texas and deployed to Saudi Arabia and Qatar – and also had two kids. Then, while transitioning back to civilian life, he looked for jobs that would allow him to help others and prioritize his family.
Through his participation in Hiring Our Heroes’ fellowship program, he landed a job with Ecolab as a district sales manager in Oklahoma City, OK. Then, in February 2020, he found an opportunity to move closer to family.
“My parents live in Lillington and my brother was stationed at Fort Bragg, so when I saw a job posting for a district sales manager position with Ecolab in Durham, NC, I decided to go for it,” Galbraith says. “We moved to Holly Springs right as the pandemic hit, and I was one of like five people on the plane coming out here. It was a weird introduction to North Carolina, but I was pretty psyched because there was no traffic as I traveled around the Triangle for work.”
Managing a team that sells cleaning solutions and sanitation products to restaurants, hotels, schools, senior living centers and other facilities, Galbraith was reminded of the importance of his work as the pandemic dragged on – and how every day is an opportunity to serve individuals and communities.
Along the way, his passion for marketing continued to grow. So, understanding the direction the industry’s headed in, Galbraith began exploring opportunities to learn basic analytics, coding and marketing skills. He completed the Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate, as well as Google Ads certifications in search, display, video, shopping ads, apps and measurement. Then, seeing the role of data in marketing accelerating, Galbraith started looking into graduate programs.
“I saw the MMA program at NC State and it was exactly what I was looking for,” he says. “It seemed like the best opportunity – especially as an in-state student – so I applied and was fortunately able to get in.”
Since starting the program this fall, Galbraith has enjoyed opportunities to learn new functions on Excel and see marketing concepts come to life as he works on case studies. And naturally, he’s eager to leverage these new skills and concepts for purposes much larger than himself.
“My goal is always going to be to help people. And the more people I can help, the better. So ideally, I’d love to become a vice president of marketing for a company so I’m in a position to help as many people as possible,” he says.
In the end, he’s glad he chose a life of service and kids soccer games over a career in law – and thankful that his wife, Kristin, has been with him every step of the way.
“We met when we were just kids. I started at TCU when I was 17 and met her my first day of class, and we’ve been together for almost 15 years now. She’s had to go to a lot of places she probably never thought she’d go – heading to Louisiana with me for law school and even moving to Oklahoma – a state she once hated – not once, but twice. She also took care of our kids by herself when I was overseas and couldn’t be there. In fact, my oldest son was just 18 days old when I was deployed. She’s been absolutely incredible.”