Alumni Profile: Garvin Brown '86
LCC’s annual Remembrance Day ceremonies will forever be etched in Garvin Brown’s memory. Those times spent in the Memorial Gym listening to the headmaster read the names of LCC students who died in battle and speak about our collective responsibility to be leaders in our society, helped shape his character. And he has carried that sense of responsibility with him throughout his life and career. “That experience had an impact on all of us at LCC,” he says. “We felt that we had something to live up to wherever we went.”
Early in his career, Garvin worked for Parliamentarians for Global Action in New York, an NGO whose mandate is to lobby the United Nations on a variety of issues. But at the back of his mind was Brown-Forman, the 150-year-old, Kentucky-based, family-owned, spirits and wine company. Although he did ultimately join the company as a wine salesman for metro New York, he was still unsure as to whether this was the profession for him, and decided to pursue an MBA at the London Business School.
A brief stint in Kentucky followed, during which he took a number of corporate jobs. But ultimately, he committed to Brown-Forman and relocated to the London office where he joined the marketing team to run the Europe-Middle East-Africa division.
Now occupying the role of chairman of the board, Garvin’s sense of responsibility continues to be a motivating factor. He feels accountable to his shareholders and hopes that his company has, in some way, had a positive impact on their lives. Equally important, he has a particular responsibility toward his consumers and their families given the nature of his business.
“The culture and values of the beverage alcohol industry are scrutinized more closely than most,” he says. “I understand that, if not enjoyed properly, our products can have a negative impact on consumers.” With this in mind, Brown-Forman is a member of organizations that self-monitor marketing and sales practices in the industry and makes charitable contributions to non-profits that address issues resulting from the abuse of alcohol products.
When Garvin further reflects on his time at LCC, he acknowledges that he remains grounded largely due to his early years at the school. “At LCC I was exposed to many of life’s challenges and opportunities that materialized on the football field, the rugby pitch, on stage, as well as in the student council room, classrooms and hallways,” he says. “Those five years were critical in my learning the basics of how to navigate life.”
To graduates who may be just starting out, he reminds them of the importance of prioritizing all areas of life. “I am an advocate of being as ambitious in one’s personal life as one’s professional life,” he says. “Each will feed off of one another in a much healthier way.”