Professiona Profile: Kurt BrautigamBy JOSHUA CAMPBELL,
(This week The Columbian-Progress spotlights Pearl River Valley Electric Power Association Manager of Member Services Kurt Brautigam.)
Q: When and where were you born?
A: I was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., Nov. 14, 1957.
Q: Where did you attend school?
A: I graduated from Hickory High School in Hermitage, Pa., before I moved to Mississippi in 1982. I knew I wanted to live in the South, and I finally made it to Hattiesburg and have lived in South Mississippi ever since. It’s too cold up North. I was working in a radio station and ultimately discovered the radio, television and film program at Southern Miss so I graduated with my bachelor’s from there in 1986 and then finished a master’s degree in 1989 in public relations.
Q: Where do you work? Tell us about your job/company.
A: I am manager of member services for Pearl River Valley Electric and have been here almost eight years. We do member relations and communications. We also do energy efficiency and work with our members with any questions they have with their electric use or appliances. We’re seeing solar applications now. We try to be the arm of the association that communicates with our members and tries to see to their needs.
Q: What led you to your profession?
A: I’ve been in the electric industry for more than 20 years now, mainly in communications. I’ve worked in external communications, media relations, advertising and public relations. It’s a fascinating industry. It’s not one I grew up dreaming of being a part of, but obviously it’s essential to people’s lives. Pearl River Valley Electric is very focused on improving the quality of lives of our members in the communities they live in as well as providing electricity. We know electricity is a foundation of any modern way of life these days.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?
A: I really like the variety of it. You see all kinds of questions and challenges from a consumer relations standpoint. Presenting the association and representing our views is always different, interesting and challenging.
Q: What is the most important lesson you have learned in your career?
A: Treating people the way you would want to be treated and understanding they may not know all of the intricacies of your industry or company so how you can explain a problem and find a solution to their problem.
Q: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: I was exposed to a lot of things when I was a kid like sports, the arts, reading and literature and music so I think I’ve always been somebody who has always liked to express ideas and communicate effectively. I was very fortunate to find something that pulled a lot of those interests together.
Q: What was your first job?
A: I cut yards as a teenager, but my first real job was working at a gas station back when they were not self-service.
Q: Who are the people who have been most influential in your life?
A: I’ve been fortunate people provide mentorship and leadership. Several of my college instructors were very instrumental in helping me find my way. I’ve had a couple of bosses who have been very helpful in teaching me professionalism, accountability and what it takes to be effective as a communicator.
Q: If you could have anything for your last meal on earth, what would it be?
A: Jambalaya from Rajun Cajun’s.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Scotland, Italy and Germany would be my first choices. There’s still plenty of places to see in the United States as well.
Q: What hobbies do you like to do in your spare time?
A: I love to play golf. That’s been a lifelong interest. I love listening to music and hearing people play music. I love to read and certainly enjoy writing. I like the beach.
Q: What do you enjoy about Columbia and Marion County?
A: I enjoy the small-town atmosphere and the people. I’ve seen a lot of positive changes in Columbia, and that’s exciting.
Q: If you could have lunch with anyone from your life or history, who would it be and why?
A: Drew Brees, Kenny Stabler, Richard Petty and Sandy Koufax. They’re the best at what they’ve done, fascinating and I think it would be a heck of a conversation.
Q: If you didn’t have to worry about money, what would you do all day?
A: I’d like to give back in some way whether it’s a community organization or an education-related organization. I’ve been very fortunate so I can envision myself in retirement trying to be a volunteer in some way in addition to playing golf, traveling and doing some fun things.
Q: What moment in your life has had the biggest impact on who you are today?
A: Being in college and having professors who were inspiring and supporting allowed me to find ways to see the world that would allow me to find my role in it. The folks who helped me discover how to apply myself in a way that is satisfying have probably been the biggest influence on my life.
Q: What is one thing you want to do that you’ve never tried?
A: I would like to travel to Europe and just see the foundation of our civilization, the antiquities and cities that have existed for so long.
Q: What are your top three morals?
A: Honesty, setting a good example and trying to understand people and where they’re coming from in situations in life.
Q: How would you like to be remembered?
A: As somebody who was helpful, trustworthy and was able to give back to the people and places around me.
— Joshua Campbell
Pictured Above: Pearl River Valley Electric Power Association Manager of Member Services Kurt Brautigam is
originally from Pennsylvania but hated the cold and decided to move to Mississippi. Brautigam’s
interest in communications led him to his current position. | Photo by Joshua Campbell