Alumni Business - Brian Johnson
Chief Marketing Officer and Shareholder | BCI Burke
1993 | Business Management
The Business Journey
It’s interesting to think about it as a journey because that’s a good way to describe it. I started off in an accounting role as I graduated from Parkside and expanded into sales and marketing several years later. I went on to earn my MBA with a focus on Marketing and progressively advanced in my career to leadership positions.
I’ve been in the commercial playground business for twenty years now and am fortunate to be the Chief Marketing Officer and a shareholder of BCI Burke – one of the leading playground manufacturers in the U.S. In my role, I am responsible for the marketing, new product development, and design areas of our company and assist our CEO and CFO with our growth initiatives. It’s an extremely rewarding career because we make playground and recreation equipment for kids, families and communities all around the world. We also own an outdoor musical instruments company in the U.K., and they make some fantastic products as well.
Why did you decide to attend UW-Parkside?
My high school guidance counselor encouraged me to visit UW-Parkside. He thought it would be a good fit for me and shared that he thought it was one of the best kept secrets in the UW system. I grew up in Waukesha County, and at the time Parkside had a limited amount of on-campus housing, so I wasn’t familiar with the school.
My counselor was right - it turned out to be the perfect place for me!
Favorite UW-Parkside memory?
I have quite a few, but one that stands out was in my freshman year. I had an American Literature class in Molinaro Hall. The classroom was up on one of the higher floors overlooking the trees and pond, and the trees were really bright with fall colors. Our professor walked in and I’ll never forget, he had a Rolling Stones tour shirt on. We were studying Henry David Thoreau, and it was amazing. Here was this beautiful view out the windows with a professor that was really animated talking about this classic literature. I think that was the moment when I realized that I found my place and I just loved the opportunity to learn and be on the UWP campus!
How did your UW-Parkside experience impact your professional or personal life?
In terms of my professional life, UW Parkside provided me with an excellent business education. My degree in Business Management and Accounting has served me extremely well in my career and provided a great foundation for me to go on and complete my MBA. Additionally, I was very involved during my time on campus with a number of leadership roles that have really helped me over the years.
AND, personally, I met my wife (Lisa Majerle Johnson '93) at Parkside! We’ve been married for 27 years and have three amazing kids. I’m very lucky!
I’ve realized how much I valued my time at Parkside, and I want to try to give back and help another generation of students.
Advice for current UW-Parkside students?
First and foremost, take advantage of the opportunity and study hard. Whatever your area of interest is in, work hard at it. It’s really just a short time that you have in your undergraduate and graduate studies. You’ll find that your first job is likely not your last, and you may even take a career turn into a different area. Embrace all of your courses, even those outside of your major!
Second, your time on campus will be what you make of it. Get involved in clubs and organizations. These are great ways to meet people and socialize. They’re also tremendous opportunities to gain experience that will build your resume and help you in your future career.