Barry Brewer is no stranger to diverse experiences and living in varied locations. With a background that spans over 20 years in the United States Air Force, he has mapped out large-scale movement of supplies and subverted narcotics trafficking. As an associate professor of global supply chain at the BYU Marriott School of Business, Brewer has come to understand that living all over the world brings variety, but living in the moment brings happiness.
Early on Brewer knew he would be an Air Force officer, and he understood the variability of location and work that came from military service. “I had an Air Force scholarship coming out of high school. From then on, I’ve been pretty flexible in charting my course through life,” Brewer says.
He embraced a pattern of moving around. After graduating from high school, Brewer spent the first two years of his undergraduate education at Brigham Young University and then transferred to the Air Force Academy (AFA)—all before moving to Los Angeles to serve a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Following his mission, Brewer graduated with a degree in Latin American history from AFA and then commissioned as an officer. The Air Force assigned him to work as a logistics officer.
A logistics officer prepares airmen for anything by managing the transportation of supplies and equipment and ensuring every person and piece of equipment is ready to go. Already familiar with living in many places, he continued a pattern of moving from one location to another in his role.
“People always ask me what my favorite assignment is. My favorite assignment has always been the assignment that I’m in,” Brewer explains. “I’ve done many different things in my career, and I’ve enjoyed them all. I really enjoy moving around, but if you’re not happy with where you’re at, you’re never going to be happy.”
For over twenty years with the Air Force, Brewer carried out assignments in Mexico, Colombia, Baghdad, and other locations. He conducted counter narcotics projects and military exercises in Uruguay and Panama. “I was able to help a lot of people with these projects,” Brewer says.
Fulfilling responsibilities as a logistics officer throughout the world inspired him to move to Ohio and earn a master’s degree in logistics management from the Air Force Institute of Technology. With his master’s degree, Brewer helped purchase command and control systems for launch sites at Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg Air Force Base. “Completing projects like these helped me realize that my work isn’t about me but about serving others wherever I’m at. This is the best thing I can do to stay present,” Brewer says.
On one assignment in Colombia, one of his previous AFA professors visited the military base to teach a class to the Colombian military. Reconnecting with his professor, Brewer was encouraged to earn a PhD and consider teaching at AFA. “That’s what got me started on the academic track,” Brewer says.
He went on to earn his PhD in supply chain management from Arizona State University. After graduating, he taught everything from logistics to procurement to operations at AFA, the same place where his military education began.
After retiring from the military, he taught for eight years at the University of Wyoming and then two years at New Mexico State University. During that time, he also had the opportunity to be a visiting professor at BYU Marriott, teaching core MBA operations. “I loved being able to address the gospel and share what matters most with my classes at BYU,” Brewer says.
Now at BYU Marriott full time, Brewer draws on his past experiences to make the most of his new responsibilities. “My focus is the students,” Brewer says. “I love the BYU students. I think BYU students are just about as good as you get. They’re interested, they’re smart, and they want to do good in the world.”
Whether on assignment for the Air Force or teaching global supply chain courses at BYU Marriott, Brewer is focused on being in the moment. “Personally,” says Brewer, “I’m just trying to make a difference in the world.”
Written by Jake Holt