Accounting Grad Rewrites His Story

Whether it’s the crisp binding of a book straight off the press or the vibrant design of an e-book, 1999 MAcc graduate Brad Farmer loves all aspects of his job in the publishing industry.

“It’s fun to be in a field that has such great tradition and history,” says Farmer, noting that all major world movements—from the Reformation to the American Revolution—had a book behind them as a driving force. The growth of e-readers has dramatically changed an industry that had remained static for centuries, but Farmer says it is a great time to be a publisher and see the changes in the industry.

Farmer’s journey from public accountant at Merrill Lynch to his current position as CEO of international publisher Gibbs Smith reads like a page-turner. After growing up with a love of books, he was in the middle of his accounting career when he met a neighbor working for his future employer. The neighbor’s daily work—varying from meeting with authors on different topics to overseeing printing—was fascinating to Farmer. When the opportunity arose, Farmer traded in his balance sheets for manuscripts and began working as the company’s chief operating officer. When he recently became CEO, the transition from working almost solely on accounting projects to a variety of other projects was exciting and nerve-racking.

“Every single book is its own entrepreneurial adventure,” Farmer says. Each project includes market research, financial projections, marketing strategy, and production. “We publish more than one hundred books per year and look into three to four times that many projects. We are essentially looking at starting mini-businesses each week.”

Gibbs Smith’s books range from state history textbooks for thirty-six states to architecture, cooking, and children’s books, including the BabyLit and 101 Things to Do With series. Farmer manages client relations, production, distribution, and the company’s forty-three employees. He enjoys the opportunity to be constantly learning about a variety of subjects.

Farmer’s dedication to the publishing industry doesn’t stop at the office. He is a member of multiple publishing boards and planning committees and regularly visits local schools to discuss careers in publishing—even creating an e-book with a group of elementary students. With all the sensational and degrading literature available, Farmer aims to lead his company to produce books that inspire and uplift.

Farmer and his wife, Alyson, have five children and live in Layton, Utah. He enjoys camping, hiking, and, of course, curling up with a good book.

Check out the summer magazine’s class notes for more alumni stories and updates.