The Sioux Falls Business Journal recognized the top 10 up-and-coming young professional leaders in the Sioux Falls area in March 2009, which included College of Business (CoB) alumnus, Ryan Rickert. The largest city in South Dakota, Sioux Falls, with a population of more than 150,000, boasts many young up-and-comers, with only ten making the list.
Rickert (’06, marketing), says that his career path started before graduation, the summer after his third year at MSU, when he was hired on with the Sioux Falls Storm, a professional football team affiliated with United Indoor Football. Starting out as the “special events coordinator” after graduation, Rickert eventually worked his way up to his current position of Vice President/General Manager (VP/GM) after just six seasons.
Rickert enjoys many things about working for a sports team. Being the VP/GM allows for different work situations, and he likes that his day is never the same. Another favorite part of his job is that the team includes charity events with everything they do.
Rickert says, “We have a great fan base and they support anything that we support…so we get to use that to our advantage and spread goodwill to many different organizations and individuals. Annually we donate more than 10,000 volunteer hours and $150,000 to these groups.”
In addition to all the charitable work Rickert does directly through his job, he also serves as a mentor for Junior Achievement and as a chair on the Sioux Falls Fit Club. This group will be going to a Haitian orphanage in November to GPS (Global Position System) the surrounding mountain homes in an effort to put into place a preventative measure for the protection of the families in the area. Rickert will also spend time teaching young men in the village how to swim and he will be bringing with him gear that will allow the young men to safely fish/dive for their shrimp traps. The seafood in turn feeds the children in the orphanage as well as struggling villagers from nearby farms.
On the other hand, the most challenging aspect of Rickert’s job is plain and simple–managing money. Rickert says that profit margins are thin and players’ injuries have the biggest impact on the team’s bottom line. In order to mitigate this largest factor, the Storm’s facilities have one of the strongest medical facilities in the league along with intense health training and nutrition for the players.
Rickert credits the CoB with preparing him to succeed in the business world. He learned, and fine-tuned, many of the business skills he uses in his day-to-day business interactions in the classroom. Rickert remembers positive interactions with professors throughout his time with the CoB and says that they guided him and molded his business mind. In particular, Mike Gold’s advertising course, with its hands-on, real life experience and involvement, had a huge impact on Rickert. Many of the CoB classes Rickert had taken (sales, marketing, and business communications) converged with this course, where he put all those skills to good use.
Rickert adds, “[The] CoB helped relate things to real life and made them easy to apply in a real life situation. I seriously owe much of my current success and future success to MSU’s CoB!”
For students interested in pursuing a career in sports and in general, Rickert stresses the importance of being involved in a diverse amount of activities to gain a broad perspective of things and accumulate a variety of skill sets. He also mentions the importance of stepping outside your comfort zone but to always perform as though your boss and grandparents are always watching. Rickert also emphasizes the importance of internships, saying they are a great way to get on with a team and are not extremely difficult to find. He adds, “Many teams want a couple years experience and the internship is the best way to get it. I have hired several volunteers/interns over the years because I was able to put them to the test and see how they perform. It takes the guessing out of a resume and interview.”
Rickert encourages all recent graduates and current students to find jobs in their areas of interest and to be tenacious. He says, “Be fearless…Always go above and beyond. People are always watching and you never know who is looking up to you. You never know who will respect your hard work and remember it down the road. Life is all about maintaining relationships and networking. Be true to yourself and be honest with others.” If Rickert’s advice is taken seriously by CoB students and alumni, they may find that they are able to become as successful in the business world as he is.