2023 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Ryan Wickham, Texas A&M (Mays)

Ryan Wickham

Texas A&M University, Mays Business School

Age: 35

“Highly-driven, analytical, charismatic father, husband and leader who enjoys challenging new tasks.”

Hometown: Tyler, Texas

Family Members: Wife: Courtney, Son: Warren, Mother: Leslie, Father: Bob, Running Partner and Border Collie: Kora.

Fun fact about yourself: I have an array of different activities that I enjoy outside of work including distance running, building computers, playing baseball with my son, deer hunting, exercising, and fostering animals for local animal shelters. I also really enjoy being around a grill or BBQ pit and cooking! We are an extremely active family and enjoy traveling, skiing, spending time outside, and visiting with family.

Undergraduate School and Degree: The University of Texas at Austin, BBA and MPA in Accounting (2011)

Where are you currently working? VP of Finance at Evergreen North America Industrial Services

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: My extracurricular activities include volunteering for my son’s little league team, fostering animals with my family for local animal shelters, spending time outside with my family, exercising, and running. I also enjoy visiting and spending time with my family in northeast Texas and attending concerts and traveling with my wife across the country. From a leadership perspective and in my role as the VP of Finance for Evergreen, I enjoy working with our senior leadership on developing our company culture throughout the organization. Through the MBA program at Texas A&M, I developed a relationship with the current COO of Evergreen North America and began working there in January 2023 as their new VP of Finance.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Of all the things I accomplished during business school, I’d say the one thing I am most proud of is being able to juggle my family time, schoolwork, work, and extracurricular activities. Prioritization was very key for me. I trained for and completed my first-ever marathon with my wife in my second year in the program. Sharing that experience with my wife is one thing that I will never forget. If something is important to you and brings you joy, prioritize it, and go after it. Time management is a skill that is required when transitioning into a leadership role within an organization and is a skill that is often overlooked. As a leader, you must be able to pivot to issues requiring your undivided attention and rearrange priorities quickly.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? During my time as a controller at my previous employer, I implemented a new accounting system across the entire company and performed the necessary training for all stakeholders. As a young controller, this was a large undertaking and gave me the confidence and experience to utilize this knowledge to help growing organizations in my career moving forward. Being the subject matter expert of the new system allowed me to grow this skill as my company grew and discover more ways to impact an organization that are often overlooked.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? “Get comfortable being uncomfortable”.  This is a phrase that I heard Professor John Krajicek say to me in my first semester in the program. This phrase has stayed with me throughout my journey and will stay with me well into the future. To grow as an individual, you must embrace your weaknesses and consistently work on improving them. Professor Krajicek challenged me to embrace my weakness in public speaking. By consistently stepping outside of my natural comfort zone and challenging myself with new things, I continue to develop into a better husband, father, and employee.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? I chose Texas A&M’s executive MBA program because I felt my personal values align with the core values of the university: excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect, and selfless service. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to attend the program at Texas A&M and look forward to giving back to the university in the future.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Be proactive and not reactive. Be proactive in making decisions within your organization and make a decision with the best available information. I believe that people have a fear of making a decision as they don’t want to be held responsible for the outcome. People in an organization are looking to others to decide about a policy, procedure, communication piece, or strategy. If you make a decision and the outcome is unfavorable, turn it into a learning experience and grow professionally. A large part of leadership is being able to make the best decision with a limited amount of data, standing by your decision, and holding yourself accountable.

Another important lesson I learned during my time in the program is to not be afraid of change. There are many organizations that are not receptive to change. The best way to be an industry leader is to embrace the changing landscape and be able to adapt to the current economic climate. Be the change leader within your organization. Be proactive in your organization and embrace change.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education. During the Fall 2022 semester, I was volunteering heavily with my son’s little league team, working full-time as a controller, preparing and implementing my capstone project, training heavily for a marathon, and interviewing for new positions. As I alluded to earlier, time management is a very key skill to learn and implement because not only do have work responsibilities when going back to school, but you also have a duty to your family. I had to prioritize my time and focus on the most important tasks at hand and pivot quickly when something else required my attention.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Embrace your weaknesses and turn them into your strengths not only in your professional life but also in your personal life. Personal growth comes when you realize that you’re only as strong as your biggest weakness. Imposter syndrome runs rampant in the leadership world: you feel as if you don’t belong because you don’t have the experience or knowledge for your position. Also, don’t procrastinate. Be proactive, not reactive, in your career, family, personal life, and education. Put yourself (and your family) first. You are your biggest advocate.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Out of all the questions, this may be the most difficult one to answer as my entire class is full of brilliant individuals who come from all over the world and from different industries. However, if I were to single one out classmate, it would be Simone Williams. Simone juggled being a dedicated employee, raising a teenager going off to college, caring for her elderly grandmother, and organizing multiple team projects throughout the program. She always had a learning attitude and was a fantastic group member of our team. I believe that she grew tremendously as a leader during the program and completely changed her outlook on her career. I also admire her caring nature toward others and hope to emulate that in my life.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? I wanted an interactive classroom of like-minded individuals who were also working full-time and juggling parenthood, work, and other personal commitments like me. I also wanted to gain access to a network of different industries and areas of business in which I had little experience. I also felt that an executive program would focus more on leadership within an organization.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My long-term professional goal would be to start my own business and build an organization that values diverse input from employees. Before I get there, I’d like to further develop my skills in a leadership role within my organization and continue to foster and grow the relationships that I have built throughout my career.

What made Ryan such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“I first met Ryan in August of 2021 at the EMBA Welcome Dinner. I was immediately impressed with his attitude. He is clearly very smart and confident; that was obvious. But he also showed himself to be humble. Unfortunately, this combination of confident humility is all too rare. But it is an enviable trait that is a key to effective executive presence. And Ryan definitely has it.

It can be frustrating leading class discussions in this contemporary culture of distraction. So many people seem fragmented in their attention. Even when engaging in discussions, they are too often trying to multi- task, answering or composing emails, etc. But that’s not Ryan. In class, Ryan is always present. He is a focused listener; he contributes wisely and judiciously; he supports his classmates; and he always shows respect for the professors and administrative staff.

I’m also very impressed with the way Ryan has juggled the demands of family, work, and school. We frequently see stress responses in Executive MBAs that are clearly the result of trying to meet so many competing demands. But I have never seen this in Ryan. He always shows up with a positive attitude, ready to learn and contribute.

It has truly been a pleasure working with and getting to know Ryan. He is a hard-working, sincere leader, who is always dedicated to improving himself. Again, I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to offer my praise and recommendation on behalf of Ryan Wickham.”

Professor John Krajicek
Business Communication Lecturer


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