AUSTIN, Texas – Scott Stanford’s wide-ranging experiences as a journalist, producer and member of the United States Army have taken him more places than he ever thought possible.
“I can’t believe the life that I’ve had, and the Army has been responsible for nearly all of it. It’s phenomenal,” Stanford said.
His winding career, which started off in Los Angeles and currently rests in Austin, includes the types of highlights many creatives only dream of – supporting the development of artists like Marilyn Manson and Gwen Stefani at Interscope Records, working with Shaquille O’Neal in his agent’s office, creating new comedy programs at HBO and being part of the team that launched the original Xbox.
His background additionally includes roles as a journalist in Austin, a live news producer with ABC in Seattle and a video producer for a Manhattan-based public relations firm. Stanford also holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in international relations from Tufts University.
He considers his most meaningful work thus far, however, to have been with the Army, as both a National Guard and Reserve Soldier of 25 years and an Army Civilian of nearly five years.
“I’m really glad that I found a career in civil service, doing what I really love, for one of the most consequential organizations in the entire world.”
Stanford currently serves as director of communications at Army Applications Laboratory, an innovation hub that devises new ways for industry and the Army to work together.
His role as an expert communicator involves understanding how to relate to the private sector as well as how to apply effective communication strategies to Army projects focused on equipping the future force with the state-of-the-art tools they will need to succeed.
He explained that the lab, which is part of Army Futures Command, strives to ensure that the command “consistently delivers the best technology in the world to the best Army in the world.”
“Our mandate is to find the best ways to do that by energizing the commercial innovation base in the country – and to some extent internationally – to bring the world’s absolute best technologists and entrepreneurs into the fold to help solve the hardest Army technology problems,” Stanford said.
He also knows what it means to devote one’s efforts to a greater mission. Stanford grew up observing his father and grandfather’s military service and was inspired to also serve.
“He had been a Soldier his entire adult life, until he left as a major general,” he said of his father.
Stanford decided he wanted to become a Soldier in his late twenties, after reflecting on his father’s career and commitment to the Army, as well as the fulfilling personal and professional relationships his father formed during his more than 30 years of service.
“It felt like my responsibility to do it,” Stanford said of the decision.
He enlisted in the Washington State National Guard as an infantryman and went on to serve as a platoon leader in the 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry Regiment (Mountain) in Vermont. He deployed from there to Ramadi, Iraq, serving from 2005 to 2006 under brigade commander John Gronski, who is now an author and speaker on leadership.
“We had a lot of amazing experiences out there,” Stanford said.
He additionally served in Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009, as a civil affairs team leader and “interfacing with Taliban on a nearly daily basis.”
“It’s a totally different place than any other place in the world,” Stanford said of Afghanistan.
“The Army gives you experiences like that.”
Stanford applied his experiences in Afghanistan to a civilian role working on stability operations, later creating a stability operations framework that became the basis for the Marine Corps’ doctrinal framework.
He also worked in Africa as a security cooperations officer and stood up the first security cooperations office in Somalia in 25 years.
He then joined the Joint Information Operations Warfare Center, contributing to Joint Force counter-ISIS efforts, and eventually found his current role with Army Applications Laboratory.
What he wants the public to understand is that the Army offers excellent stability, benefits and resources to make a difference, “along with the opportunity to do something really meaningful in a government that’s changing by the day.”
“There are so many different kinds of things that you can do,” Stanford said.
He intends to keep sharing that message – with individuals and businesses alike – and looks forward to helping the Army harness new opportunities along the way.
“I think that what we do at AFC is one of the most important things that a person could do anywhere,” Stanford said.