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Cam Byrd: Reaching new heights

Cam Byrd is proof that a degree from the College of Information and Communications can take you just about anywhere. That’s because the 2009 public relations alumnus is a senior flight service manager for American Airlines. 

Posted September 12, 2019

How did your degree in public relations lead you to your current work with American Airlines?
My degree in public relations equipped me for my role with American by preparing me to operate in a flexible work environment and communicate with different audiences. Being able to craft and present information at many levels — from customers and team members to executive leaders — is an essential skill developed through the public relations program. Additionally, the program’s writing courses taught me how to write professionally — a skill that is highly valued and can lead to many career opportunities.

Part of the excitement working for a global company is that work can take me virtually anywhere. Luckily, I’m grounded most days to support those flying. Aside from opportunities that might take me to new destinations, I hope to continue adapting to new technologies. We all rely on data — especially quick data — to make decisions and communicate as informed professionals. Interpreting data and being able to speak to it is another necessary skill gained from a degree in public relations.

What’s the most interesting or significant thing you’ve done since graduating?
I took, not one, not two, but three cross-country road trips in the last 10 years. I had family moving around and just decided their moves would be my adventures, too. Of course, I had to help with the moving part, but seeing the changing American landscape from east to west is really magical. Those not-so-famous fly-over states have quite a bit going on and much to see.

What are a few goals that you still have for your future career?
I hope that through my career with American, I’ll visit the last five U.S. states I haven’t been to  Alaska, Montana, New Hampshire, Vermont and Wyoming. Professionally, I hope that communicating consistently and accurately provides my team members the support they need to feel informed and knowledgeable. Although not a Moore School student, good management equals good internal communication.

What are you passionate about in your work?
I’m passionate about helping my team know the WHY behind how the airline operates. As a self-proclaimed aviation geek, there’s so much that keeps me engaged to learn something new. I try to pass on my excitement to new and experienced team members. When I start talking about aviation with family and friends who aren’t in the industry, I have to remember that not everyone is in love with airplanes and airports as much as I am.

What did you learn while in school at the CIC that still resonates today?
Pay attention to detail. People. Names. Cities. Structures. Titles. Acronyms. Deadlines. You get something wrong and it can be costly. Your professors aren’t being mean by penalizing you for these mistakes; they’re driving awareness that could save your career.

Also, there’s never a first annual.

Do you have a favorite professor or a favorite memory from your time at the CIC?
Hands down, Lisa Sisk and her campaigns class. It was probably one of the few times, up until that point, that I had to envision something in great detail, take critical feedback, plan it meticulously and see it through … and it all had to make sense. It’s really special to have that experience as a young person and to be supported the entire way, as long as you put in the effort. Lisa does this in her classes — waiting to see when the lightbulb comes on while helping her students feel like they can do anything. She instructs from a place of love for the profession and for her students’ development.

Also, walking in circles  literally (to use today’s vernacular). Looking for a room in the Coliseum was really a quest and a rite of passage, too.

Many SJMC students aspire to hold positions such as yours in the future. What advice do you have for them?
Take opportunities when they present themselves, and find opportunities if you don’t love what’s in front of you. Regardless of the field, if you accept challenges in your work, not only will you feel a sense of accomplishment, but you’ll capitalize on an opportunity to set yourself apart from others.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.