Ohio University

Alumnus Spotlight - Scott Milburn, BSJ '91

Alumnus Spotlight - Scott Milburn, BSJ '91

Editor's note: This feature, originally published in February 2020, has been updated to include a question on coronavirus impact in May 2020.

Hometown: Upper Arlington, Ohio

Year Graduated: 1991

School: E.W. Scripps School of Journalism

Major: Journalism

Current job title and location: Senior director, Corporate Communication; Nationwide Children’s Hospital

What do you do? As part of the Marketing and Public Relations Department, I lead a team that manages communication with the hospital’s 13,000 employees. As the second-busiest children’s hospital in the country and a top-10 pediatric medical and research center, there is always a lot going on, and keeping employees informed and engaged in the hospital’s work and mission is a priority. We use the hospital’s intranet, print and digital resources, digital signage and special events to do that. We also work with c-suite leaders and individual clinical units across the hospital’s 60+ sites to provide internal communication counsel in response to specific needs. It’s a fascinating place doing important work so there are always inspiring stories to tell.

What made you come to Ohio University? Were there other places you considered? I always knew I wanted a career in which I was able to tap my interest in and love of writing, so the journalism school was very attractive to me. There weren’t too many other places that I even considered. 

How did the Scripps College of Communication equip you with the skills you needed to succeed? When you are seeking to engage and inform an audience, the value of clear and accessible language cannot be overstated. A standard I use to boil it down is, “How do you explain it to your grandma in a bar?” The ability to write clearly, precisely, accurately and in a consistent style are all things in which I got a good foundation at Scripps and I, literally, use them every day. Sadly, however, I never went with either of my grandmothers to a bar. That would have been interesting.

What about your experiences here was so memorable? Although I didn’t realize it at the time, instructors who derive satisfaction from seeing students succeed is part of the school’s and college’s value proposition. It creates an environment that inspires and lifts students in ways they don’t realize at the time. That positivity among students and excitement for their fields drives you on. A constructive culture and enthusiasm for communications’ various career fields is especially valuable in a time of change and disruption in communication fields overall.

Tell us about your career path. Public policy and how it is applied in real life by our elected officials has always interested me because, well, doing it right matters. I pursued a career in government from the beginning and have had the chance to do and see some interesting things in positions at the White House, a presidential campaign, both chambers of Congress and with two governors. Elected politics isn’t what it used to be, however, so I shifted gears and am grateful to be part of Nationwide Children’s. I also volunteer on the board of the South Side Early Learning Center, a 100-year-old, high-performing preschool near the hospital.

How has your work life and or focus changed due to the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. and resulting precautionary measures?

Adversity can be a catalyst for creativity and innovation if you’re open to it.  Yes, we’re all drinking from firehoses of stress and uncertainty, but looking for answers that aren’t there yet is just doubling down on a lousy hand.  Instead, by embracing the curveballs, teams that are already big hitters are discovering productivity, cooperation and innovative ways to care that a year in the process improvement batting cage would never have achieved. It’s an unexpected—and inspiring—development for which I’m grateful to be a part.

What advice do you have for current students?

  • Be good at what you do. There’s simply no substitute for excellence. 
  • Pursue your interests. Work isn’t always easy, let’s face it, so try to work on issues that you enjoy or believe are worthwhile. You’ll feel good about what you do when you leave at night.
  • Have a code. Know what you believe in, what you think matters, what you think is right. To be clear, believing in nothing is a belief system also, just not one with a compelling trajectory. Your code follows you and is applicable at work just like the rest of life. Keep life and work both aligned with your belief system, and you’ll have to do far less explaining or rationalizing to yourself or others.
  • Trust the journey. Do a job you like, do it well, and the future will take care of itself. Don’t overly obsess over career goals, or you’ll miss the unexpected opportunities that inevitably arise.
  • Stay in touch. You’ll always meet people along the way with whom you click, who interest you or who do things you like. Stay in touch with them so you can continue to learn from them, and give each other a hand along the way.