RAISE Podcast: Brandon Buzbee, University of Denver

On this episode of the RAISE podcast, Brent chats with Brandon Buzbee, Senior Associate Vice President of Campaign and Global Networks at the University of Denver. 

They cover topics like door-to-door sales, merging career services and alumni engagement, holistic corporate engagement strategies, PCUAD, and much more.

Tune into the full episode here, or catch the highlights below.



Highlights from this episode

During college, Brandon’s summer job was going door-to-door selling study guides to families in rural Allentown, Pennsylvania. The first summer, he had lots of doors shut in his face, ate many PB&Js in his car, and made $2k. He returned the next summer with experience, thicker skin, and some deep determination – and he 10x’d his commission. 

Brandon started his advancement career at the University of California, San Diego, where he worked with the endlessly-innovative Armin Afsahi. Together, they realized that jobs mattered a lot to alums, so they merged career services and alumni engagement.

Brandon reminds us that if you can solve a resource problem, you can move things that seem unmovable. At UCSD, once he viewed the entire alumni body as a resource to job-seeking students and alums, he was able to envision and build a resource-limitless plan to support career services.

We all understand that examining participation by class year has value. But it sure does seem like an arbitrary metric. What if we looked at participation by alumni at top employers? And stoked some internal networking (and maybe even healthy competition) at our institution’s strongest hiring partners? 

Brandon discusses the need for institutions to embrace a more holistic corporate engagement strategy. Picture this: the career services officer, the corporate relations fundraiser, and the business school dean all at the same “table” with Google’s corporate relations team discussing hiring, employee engagement, and corporate philanthropic impact. 

At the University of Denver, the first three calls that a recent graduate receives from the advancement office ask these questions: “How are you?” “Can I connect you with our career center to support your job search?” “Do you know about this upcoming webinar/alumni networking session?”

Brandon reflects on the value that membership in PCUAD (the Association of Private College and University Alumni Directors) has brought to his personal and professional life. The group just added Morehouse College, Spellman College, and Howard College to their member ranks this year.

When we build our remote work policies, we should really be considering the value we hold for the mental health and well being of our professionals. Do we believe that happy employees are productive employees? If so, what working environment best supports their happiness? How do we hold them accountable to producing great things from that environment? And then – what’s our remote work policy, based on the answers to these questions?

Back in the day during his sales training with Southwest Advantage (door-to-door in rural PA), Brandon learned a story about pessimists versus optimists. The punchline is that an optimist could be chest-deep in a room full of manure and say, “With all this manure, there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!” Stay positive. Find your pony.

More about Brandon… 

Brandon leads the marketing, engagement, career development, and campaign efforts that build sustained commitment and support from DU’s global network of alumni, students, donors, families and friends. Prior to joining DU in 2015, he served as the executive director of industry engagement and regional development at his alma mater, the University of California, San Diego. Brandon is a forward-thinker who is passionate about engaging and galvanizing the DU community in powerful ways, and he is a noted speaker who has been nationally recognized for his work on emerging trends in alumni relations and career services. For the past two years he has been chair of the Private Colleges and Universities Alumni Directors organization membership committee. He was appointed in July 2021 to serve as a commissioner for CASE’s Commission on Alumni Relations.

Want to work with Brandon? The University of Denver is hiring! Connect with Brandon on LinkedIn, or by email at  Brandon.Buzbee@du.edu.

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