Aaron Brown, a center on the offensive line (1993-96), lettered four years in football at Linfield before graduating in 1997. He was a member of two league championships teams in 1993 and 1994.
What are you currently doing today?
I currently live in Sherwood, Ore., with my beautiful wife Alicia (Linfield '96) and our two children, Hannah (4) and Landon (2). After graduation, we spent eight years in Seattle before moving back to Oregon in 2003.
I currently work for Con-way Enterprise Systems in Portland wearing several hats as a Program Manager and Continuous Improvement Manager for the Enterprise. In these roles, I am responsible for all enhancement projects that are being worked at the Portland Campus of around 800 employees. In February of this year I was named as Program Manager for bringing a third Party Logistics company online in Mumbai, India.
I have been lucky enough in my current and past roles to see many parts of the world, having travelled to Japan, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Europe and India on a regular basis.
What type of leadership skills did you learn at Linfield that have helped you in your job as program manager at Con-Way Enterprise Services?
I look at leadership in two separate ways: Leadership through effective decision making and teamwork; and leadership through hard work and example (don't ever ask someone to do something you wouldn't do yourself).
Through the Linfield experience, I was able to develop both of these skill sets in the classroom and through athletics. While playing football, there were many times you needed to step up and bring your teammates together for a common goal. Yelling and screaming typically only add to confusion. I learned to get a clear picture of what was happening and work with the staff and players to overcome challenges. That’s a skill I use on a daily basis today. Leaders who waffle on decisions or direction create chaos and inefficiencies. Get your team’s input and make a decision to move forward.
I was also able to build great relationships with both my peers and professors at Linfield. I'll be the first to admit I wasn't the most dedicated student, but I still learned the importance of building strong relationships and making sure that I led by example.
In professional careers, there are times when you need to make decisions that will place hardship on people, either through workload or activities that are not popular, but need to be done. I have never asked someone to do something that I wouldn't do myself, whether it be working long hours, getting up in the middle of the night to talk to employees overseas, or letting people go that were not pulling their weight on a project.
Leadership is not always enjoyable, but in the end when you are successful at a venture it is hugely rewarding. I always make it a point to never claim credit for good things that happen, without a good team no one can be successful. The word "I" rarely escaped my mouth...instead "my Team" is how I describe successes. On the flip side I also found that it takes a strong leader to admit shortcomings. There have been times when things didn't go as planned, or I made bad decisions. People respect you when you own up to mistakes and talk about what you learned from your mistakes. When I hire people this is a trait I always look for.
One last thing, at the end of a project or achievement I like to make the team feel proud and reward them for their hard work. Those same people will want to work harder next time you have a challenge.
If you had one piece of advice or one thing to tell Linfield's senior football players what would that be?
Keep your priorities straight, work hard so there are no regrets later, enjoy the moment, and build friendships that will last a lifetime.
What was your fondest memory at Linfield?
It’s the friendships that I forged through sports at Linfield. I still meet up with my fellow o-lineman on a regular basis. The stories and memories we share built a lifelong bond that isn't broken by distance or circumstance.
How would you describe the impact Linfield football made on your life?
I have always believed that the skills I use on a daily basis come more from football than any other aspect of college. Yes, I learned how businesses work and how economies function, but the real skills that I carried with me and have made me successful came from the football field. Fighting through adversity, coming together as a team and creating a winning atmosphere were not something regularly taught in class, but it is something that every employer looks for in its employees.
I have always been a true believer that you can teach someone how to perform a task, you cannot teach interpersonal traits that I described. Linfield Football, and sports in general, taught me these attributes. Coming from a program like Linfield I can also say that I hate to lose. I won't sacrifice ethics, integrity or the well-being of others, but I will do everything in my power to see that something is successful.
How closely do you still keep in touch with the program?
For the first several years I didn't have too much involvement with the program itself. The o-line had a yearly retreat (some of the best weekends of my life), but I didn't attend too many games or have regular contact with the team. Part of this was due to living in Seattle, but it was also difficult to watch people sweat and bleed on the field you had played on for so many years.
When I moved back to Portland I became more in touch with the program. For several years I talked with the team during the preseason about the risks of alcohol and drug abuse as part of the NCAA awareness campaign. Having had some hardships growing up after college, I shared those stories with the team, hoping to that I could impact even one player. To my surprise, I was contacted by many players who wanted to chat about their personal circumstances and get my advice.
Today I attend every game I can. I still tend to get rather excited watching games, and in six years of owning season tickets, I have yet to sit in my reserved seat. I prefer to be on the field where the action is...rain or shine. I'm looking forward to bringing my daughter to games this season. She informed me the other day she wanted to bring her "pom-poms" so that she could cheerlead with me on the sideline.
Fondest memories of Linfield involve developing friendships
Director of Sports Information
McMinnville, OR 97128