Ned Ward '95
Ned Ward '95, Group Vice President for New Jersey-based public relations, marketing and digital communications firm Stern + Associates, says his responsibilities include transforming the complex ideas of thought leaders to easily digestible concepts for the media and the general public to understand and apply. "I give voice to people's ideas and help bring them to life," says Ward. As a new Radford University freshman in 1991, Ward was unsure of the path he wanted to take for his future. He certainly didn’t think he’d be marketing the ideas of influential thought leaders in business, innovation, leadership, healthcare and education. However, the only career goals he had at the time included “wearing a suit and living in a big city.” Ward says, “I had an image in mind of my working self, but no clear sense, yet, of career direction.”
Faculty members at Radford helped Ward find direction, and hone his interests and talents in business and communication. Ward appreciates his management degree and his professors’ high expectations. The demanding workload and professors’ encouragement helped him become successful in understanding and simplifying the “heavy” concepts he promotes for his clients. In particular, Ward says RU labor economics professor Adrienne Birecree showed him how important good writing is in effectively communicating ideas and concepts. She emphasized writing in her class and encouraged her students to take their time and put forth the extra effort in their writing assignments. This served Ward well.
Right out of college, Ward had the opportunity to interview with New York-based public relations firm Ruder-Finn, whose clients included several large pharmaceutical companies. Prior to hire, the firm required a writing test. After Ward completed the test, the company told him his writing was really fantastic, and they wanted him to interview for an entry-level position. Thanks in part to Birecree's emphasis on good writing, Ward got the job.
Ward then became Senior Account Executive for M. Silver Associates, another PR firm, and Marketing Manager for The Turnaround Team, Inc., a marketing and digital consultancy. For the last eight years, he has been using his business and communication expertise for Stern + Associates, which specializes in thought leadership programming. "I, and others, develop a lot of high-level messaging. Our clients’ product is their intellectual property. We articulate the ideas of our clients in a way that the lay-person can understand and relate to. We are positioning their ideas in a way that generates interest and gets people to act, often through speaking at conferences or events, or media," says Ward.
Ward uses his writing skills for fun, too. In his free time, he is working on a novel. "I do some creative writing, it's my hobby. I like to write and wanted to find some kind of outlet." The book is a satirical take on some of our current cultural fads and obsessions – “the kind we’ll look back on in a few decades and shake our heads at, wondering what on Earth were we thinking,” he says. "Like hopefully all people, I love a good laugh and the topic of pop culture is a ripe place to find humor," says Ward. Ward is motivated by the fact that it does not matter how old or young you are. If you have a creative idea and the desire to do something, you can create something wonderful. Or at least try.