Scott W. Thornburg, APR, is many things: a southerner, a chef, an avid gardener and a millennial -- he's also one of the youngest national board members in the history of PRSA.


What was your first PR Job?

My first PR job out of college was working for Red Square Agency as a public relations coordinator in Mobile, Alabama. As one member in a team of three, I supported the agency itself as well as all of our PR clients, including ExxonMobil, Google, Hard Rock Hotel and Casinos, and Cirque du Soleil.


What is the part of your job that you enjoy the most?

Sojern is a fast-growing, global travel tech firm that counts 93 percent of the Fortune 500 travel companies as customers. We have 500 employees spread across more than a dozen global offices, from San Francisco to Singapore. I love the fast-paced environment of Silicon Valley, and I love my team. Working with people you like makes work fun! Also, since we're a travel company, we also have great travel perks -- can't beat that.


What would you do if you could not have a job in the communications field? 

As a southerner, food and hospitality are built into my DNA. I love to cook and host people, so I would probably open a café or bed-and-breakfast.


Why did you choose to be involved in PRSA National Leadership?

I was on the PRSSA National Committee as a student and I remember having lunch with the National Board of Directors. I was so impressed by that group. They were all so genuine and gave so much of themselves to further the society and our profession. It created quite an impression. A couple of those national leaders became mentors and, when the opportunity came along, they encouraged me to go for it. It's always been a dream of mine to serve PRSA nationally and now was the right time.


What is the most important quality of a leader?  

One of my mentors says to call everyone "teacher" because you never know what lesson you will learn. I think it's very important as a leader to approach every person or situation thinking about what you can learn from them. It's also really important to be aware of your blind spots and biases -- you don't know everything, and you definitely don't know what you don't know. Be open to feedback from others.


What are your thoughts on the future of PR?

I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I do believe in the strategic value of public relations. Our industry will evolve and thrive in the future, because businesses are more successful when they listen and communicate effectively with the public. If the onset of digital and social media has taught us anything, it's that people (and business leaders) still need a lot of help with that.