Philip Garland (’01, ’03) awarded 2014 Outstanding Early Career Award

Phil Garland and David Domke

David Domke (R) presents Philip Garland with the 2014 Outstanding Early Career Award at the Inaugural Leadership Luncheon in May. Photo by Ilona Idlis.

At this year’s Inaugural Leadership Luncheon, Philip Garland (B.A., 2001; M.A., 2003) received the 2014 Outstanding Early Career Award from the Department of Communication for his impressive career accomplishments and a commitment to the public good.

Originally from Los Angeles, Garland got his first taste of college during his junior year of high school when he attended a Cornell Summer College program. After realizing that he’d rather stay west of the Mississippi and go to a big school in a decent sized city outside of L.A., he was left with only a few choices.

“My step-father went to the UW and graduated in 1981 – I still wear his Adidas Husky jacket at every game,” Garland said. “I’ve been rooting for the Huskies since I was like eight and I have a gorgeous Malamute named King Louis who is named after King Redoubt, the mascot from the National Championship Team. It’s pretty much been Huskies all the time since I was a kid, and I was fortunate to get in from out of state at the time.”

Garland arrived at the UW thinking he wanted to major in Computer Science or Aeronautical Engineering, but then he took COM 201 from Professor David Domke.

“I went down to the front of Kane Hall and asked Domke if he had seen the movie ‘The Insider’ because it related to whatever the course material was that day,” Garland said. “He then emailed me about a sports question – who would win ESPN’s greatest athlete that year – and we sort of hit it off from there.”

Domke has now admitted that Garland was right with Michael Jordan over his own answer of Muhammad Ali, but future conversations led Garland to get interested in politics and research, and he later switched his major to Communication and Political Science.

At age 20, Garland had a double major under his belt and a desire to go to law school, but his mom told him, “No one is going to want to hire a 23-year-old lawyer.” Plans changed and since then he has earned an additional three degrees: an M.A. in Communication from the UW, an M.A. in Political Science from Stanford, and a Ph.D. in Communication from Stanford.

“I want to make my parents proud because they spent so much money, time, and effort to give me these opportunities – which leads me to my second motivation which is to somehow repay them for all of this,” Garland said.

Entering into the commercial job market, Garland got one job offer from a company in Connecticut that sells survey interviews to market research firms. He then got an offer to direct the Census Bureau of the United Arab Emirates, but six days before his flight to Abu Dhabi, SurveyMonkey called and made him an offer he didn’t refuse.

“That was four years building a bunch of products including a survey interview sales product that competed with the survey company in Connecticut,” Garland said. “We took the site traffic and predicted the 2012 presidential election – we got 48 states right, which I’m very proud of.”

The University of Washington flag flies above the Stanford flag on Garland's boat. Photo courtesy of Garland.

The University of Washington flag flies above the Stanford flag on Garland’s boat. Photo courtesy of Garland.

Garland gave a TED Talk about the project and how he saw the future of the internet. Upon departing from SurveyMonkey last October, he has combined his passion for sports with business analytics to start a consultancy focusing on “moneyball” basketball. Beyond a deep desire to bring the Sonics back, Garland is also interested in becoming a professor of communication.

“I can think of nothing more rewarding than trying to help other people travel the path that I did – the academic path or the commercial one,” he said.

After receiving the Outstanding Early Career Award, Garland teased Domke that the Communication Department must think he has a lot more ahead of him at age 33 – and we do. And if his dog’s name and multiple degrees weren’t enough to show his commitment to the UW, just take a glance at his boat.

“I’m fiercely loyal and an invested Dawg,” Garland said. “My boat has two flags: a UW flag and a Stanford flag – the UW flag flies on top.”