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Brad Keenan, Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Brad Keenan, executive advertising manager, Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison.

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What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

When marketing and advertising a casino, you are always going to run into different challenges or speed bumps due to the nature of the industry. With a casino, your guests either walk out the door happy or upset, and it’s generally not the happy people who share their experience with anyone and everyone. It’s handling the guests who walk out upset, and the perception of a casino that derives from this, that can be the most challenging.

On the flip side, watching someone hit a jackpot and walk out the door with a smile on his or her face always creates a positive vibe throughout the casino. Witnessing the joy that all of the winners bring is amazingly rewarding in itself, but hearing our radio spots, watching our television commercials, or seeing our print or billboard creative brings just as strong a sense of joy and accomplishment.

Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?

It’s been a collection of people whom I’ve admired and taken advice from over the years who have helped me get to where I am today. From former classmates and professors to current peers and colleagues, it’s a collection of all their experiences and knowledge that I gravitate to when faced with something new.

What has been the high point of your career so far?

Professional growth. Over the past two-plus years, I’ve encountered some major challenges. From successfully launching a campaign to coincide with becoming the first 100% smoke-free casino in the state of Wisconsin, to a complete re-brand and logo change, to the acquisition of the facility’s first ever liquor license and opening of a bar. All of these changes have helped me grow in ways I could never have imagined. Knowing that regardless of what I am tasked with doing, I am able to accomplish it and contribute to the company’s success is very rewarding for me.

Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Trust in yourself and your abilities. While I’m still in the early stages of my career, this advice is something that I tell myself when any kind of challenge arises. I started this job wide eyed and still in college with 12 credits remaining before completing my degree. I remember coming into work that first week and sitting at my desk, thinking to myself, “What am I doing here?” and “What am I even supposed to do?” I joke that in that first week on the job I probably had the quickest response rate to emails in the history of all emails — albeit my inbox was a little smaller at the time. Since that first week, month, and year, I’ve made a point to tell myself that I can conquer anything that is asked of me. Going forward, I can’t even imagine what I would say to this question in five, 10, 15, or even 20 years.


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