Brother Ledford Brews A New Career

Oct 13, 2022 – Adam Ledford took a nontraditional route back to Deltasig

The prototypical college student matriculates at school around age 18 and graduates within six years. However, circumstances sometimes require students to defer completing their studies. Almost 2% of Delta Sigma Pi’s active collegians are over 25, and their lives and professional experiences can prove helpful for younger brothers. Adam Ledford, Georgia, provides a prime example.

In the fall of 1996, Adam realized his dream of attending the University of Georgia. Adam’s life and academic career followed a circuitous path, but he ultimately found his way back to school – and Deltasig.

Adam was initiated into Delta Sigma Pi in the spring of 1997. He recalled that his roommate convinced him to attend a Deltasig recruiting event after seeing posters hung in his residence hall. Adam said, “I knew the second we walked in that I wanted to be a part of Delta Sigma Pi. It was easy to see the strength of the chapter based on the genuine friendliness, professionalism, and brotherhood I witnessed that first night, and throughout [the recruitment process]. It was the best decision I ever made at the University of Georgia.”

Adam enjoyed his time at Georgia, but it wasn’t in the cards for him to graduate within four years. He admitted to facing challenges in managing conflicting priorities, feeling overwhelmed by the university’s immense student body, and struggling to adjust to college’s intense academic rigors. Adam attributed the bulk of his struggles to mental health issues; he was later diagnosed with major depressive disorder and dropped out. He said, “The worst decision I ever made was not seeking out campus resources to get help.”

After departing Georgia, Adam discovered a passion for leadership and worked for approximately 15 years as a manager for Restoration Hardware, Gap and REI. He quipped, “Except maybe for Decembers, I loved every minute of it.” Adam met Julie, the love of his life, while at Georgia, and they married in 2000, moving to North Carolina when she enrolled in graduate school at University of North Carolina. Seeking new opportunities, Adam embraced the brewpub trend and became a taproom manager at Mystery Brewing in Hillsborough.

The Ledfords moved to Arizona to support Julie’s career when she joined the faculty at the University of Arizona’s Cellular and Molecular Medicine Department. Adam became the general manager of Tucson’s Borderlands Brewing Company. He enjoyed working in that role for three years, but the urge to return to school continually gnawed at him. Encouraged by the reduced tuition his wife’s position enabled, Adam resumed his academic career at Arizona with a major in business economics. His retail and hospitality management experience stirred a new interest.

 “I was fascinated with the analytics tools available to me as a manager,” Adam said, “but I wanted more. I wanted to make high-level connections and insights with bigger data sets and more powerful tools.”

Thus, Adam made data analytics a focal point with his elective courses when he resumed classes in fall 2019. He also opted to reconnect with Deltasig, although that was a more challenging step. He said, “I struggled with the decision, truthfully. I didn’t want to make it weird for the traditional students. I didn’t want to become a joke, or a mascot. I…wanted to be a resource for them, and give back to the brotherhood that was there for me.”

Adam credits reassuring conversations he had with Aimee McFarland, Cal State-Fresno, Gamma Psi chapter advisor, and then-chapter president Nick Caswell, Arizona, with helping him confidently reengage the brotherhood. He praised chapter members for readily embracing him and respecting his unique experience and skillset. “I have been able to help when my brothers are struggling, and I am honored to work alongside them to achieve mutual success.”

As with other collegians, COVID-19 presented challenges with continuing his education, but Adam enjoyed the opportunity to be going to school online at the same time as the Ledfords’ daughter, Elle. He’s on track to graduate in December and wants to launch a new career in real estate, the biomedical field or studying public policy.

Even though his career will move on from the world of craft beer, it’s an ongoing passion since he was taken to a “proper” beer bar at 21. He said, “It’s amazing … how much … networking happens in the craft-beer space. It unites blue-collar and professional workers of all ages.”

Where beer flows, food usually follows, so it’s not surprising that Adam is also a passionate chef. His favorite dishes to prepare in his outdoor kitchen are smoked brisket and pork ribs, and he strives to create at least one new dish a month from a cuisine from a different region or nation. Playing guitar, participating in Ironman triathlons, hiking and skiing are other passions.

Mastering analysis of and response to data is his future career ambition, but his devotion to relationships shows he values what reports can’t measure. 
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