Rising Stars: Patrick McCullough, of McCullough Creative

Patrick McCullough, Business Manager at McCullough Creative

Patrick McCullough didn’t intend to join his father’s marketing business, McCullough Creative.

Several years ago, while Pat was finishing his bachelor’s degrees in English and psychology at University of Iowa, his father, Jack McCullough, asked him to give feedback on the company’s redesigned website. The two like to tease each other, so Pat emailed some “blunt” feedback about the writing style.

He was embarrassed to find out his father passed it directly to the management team. They then asked Pat to write his version.

“It was like, oh man, what did I get myself into?” Pat recalled with a laugh.

He spent a day writing — and rewriting — a draft in his style, and the team ended up liking his work. He was then enlisted to rewrite the rest of the new website and work on some other projects.

McCullough, 31, has spent nearly a decade since under his father’s mentorship, and he will take over as president of the company in January.

McCullough admits he is in a very fortunate position, but he felt the need to prove himself and earn those opportunities, which led him to earn his MBA from Clarke University.

“It completely changed the way I think, operate, manage, all of those types of things,” he said of his MBA education. “That was a really big step up in my own skill set.”

His colleagues have noticed his humble commitment.

“He takes his work seriously and is typically one of the first to arrive (at) work and last to leave,” writes Annie Koelker, who nominated him as a Rising Star.

McCullough also is involved with the Dubuque chapter of American Advertising Federation as the public service director. In that role, he oversees the annual free creative campaign for a local nonprofit. He began inviting local college kids to help, in order provide them with real-world experience and networking options.

He also joined Mentor Dubuque several years ago, being paired with a local child who shares his love of hockey, being outdoors and playing video games.

McCullough said mentoring is like being a cool older brother and lets him act like a kid again.

“When you get into the working world, there’s a lot more pressure to focus on your career, getting experience and networking,” he said. “It’s cool to be able to spend some time where you get to play and goof around.”

“There’s definitely pressure not to be the stereotypical boss’ kid, who doesn’t step up to the plate and takes things for granted,” he said. “I definitely didn’t want to be that person … My dad is well-known in the community, and his business has a good reputation. Those are some big shoes to fill.”