Uncomfortable Conversations and Uncertain (But Exciting) Opportunities

February 23, 2022

As the On-Highway Truck Product Support Manager, Bart Bradford helps keep trucks and truckers on the road and essential goods moving. His journey to that role and who he is today was shaped by some inspiring individuals who taught him the value of embracing new opportunities.

From Forestry Crews to a Global Leadership Role

Bart’s leadership experience started as a high school senior helping his father run a forestry business in Mississippi. “My father always encouraged me to give my best and all. He was also the first to give me a leadership opportunity leading one of his forestry crews over the summer,” Bart shared. “[It could be intimidating], but I learned about leading and that the way to success is working as a team.”

While pursuing his engineering degree, Bart joined Caterpillar as an intern. At the same time, the Caterpillar African American Network (CAAN) was launched and at his manager’s encouragement, Bart jumped into those formative talks about the power of an employee resource group and ways to improve inclusivity at Caterpillar. Those conversations – and that intro to CAAN – would influence later opportunities. ​​​​​​​

Bart’s roles in CAAN began in local chapters then grew to selection as Global Chairperson, responsible for setting the strategy, leading the team and delivering results. This demanding role as an ERG Chairperson – in addition to his full-time role – taught Bart the power of networking and how to lead a global team of volunteers.  

“Until then, my leadership skills were not really recognized. This role offered me an opportunity to practice those skills and grow in a safe environment,” said Bart. “CAAN is all about helping individuals achieve goals in the company and life. You get out what you put in. For me, this experience played a major factor in attaining future roles.” 

Reaching Back

Bart is quick to acknowledge the impact of role models and mentors – both having them and being one. Bart said, “Many of the people I look up to took time to see the potential in others and took time to develop qualities that even those individuals couldn’t see. They pushed me to become who I am today and helped me understand that giving back – reaching back – is so important.” 

Today, Bart is committed to being one who also reaches back.

“Giving back makes you appreciate what you’ve accomplished and press on to pave the road for those behind you. It helps make you who you are,” said Bart. “Now I want others to see the potential they have. I want them to understand the world is bigger than the world they see. I particularly want to help young African American men to know how they can be successful and remind them there is a better day coming and the world is more than they may see in their immediate community.”

Customer Visit
Bard Bradford