Ryan Lessard (BBA ‘13) is the director of growth at San Francisco-based EaseCentral, an online platform that streamlines benefits enrollment and HR management. Ryan started his career at KPMG before entering the mobile industry to lead business development at Philanthrokidz, a social gaming platform for teenagers. Alma Matters recently sat down with Ryan to catch up.
Q: What have you been doing since graduation?
A: I moved to San Francisco shortly after graduation to join a mobile rewards startup, Kiip. I lead their expansion from mobile games into mobile apps and closed deals with companies such as RunKeeper, Arcsoft and the Meredith Group. After that, I joined a financial technology startup, Pollen, as their vice-president of business development, running U.S. operations and North American sales. In August 2016, I started at EaseCentral.
Q: What was the most memorable part of your BBA experience?
A: I have pretty fond memories of ICE Week. We had an interesting case and I was fortunate to have great team members to work with. Case preparation for JDC Central also comes to mind. Even more than the competition weekend itself, I enjoyed the opportunity to work on business scenarios with some of the brightest students and professors I've ever met. Through those events, I've made friends that I'm still in regular contact with today.
Q: How has your BBA helped you in your career?
A: The fundamentals of HR have probably been the most useful part of my education in my relatively short career. Recruiting, selecting, performance evaluations and compensation for the company and my team are things I think about on a daily basis; my BBA gave me a good starting point for understanding how to approach these. I've found that startups in Silicon Valley are terrible at HR, despite the important it role plays, so I'm glad I had some exposure.
Lisa Keeping and D'Arcy Delamere stand out as two professors who did a great job of focusing on the important and practical elements for managers and operators during their lectures. I'm also fortunate they were both patient with me as I probably wasn't the easiest student to teach.
Q: What's next on the horizon?
A: I'm really excited about EaseCentral's potential, so that will be my main focus for the foreseeable future. Besides that, I've always worked on a variety of side projects. Right now, I'm helping a of couple interesting companies including: a fan-run football team in the IFL, a new model for fantasy sports launching September 2016 and a web series based on a popular early 2000's video game franchise.
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