Friendship forged in UNCG MBA leads to entrepreneurial success

Posted on January 08, 2019

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When Alex Moore and Ryan Burkett met at the Bryan School during their MBA orientation in 2002, little did they know how much their lives would change through the MBA process and through the friendship that would bloom.

Both brought to their MBA programs lifelong experience living and working in their respective family businesses; Alex helping manage his family’s Delaware restaurant business, and Ryan working in his family’s retail business. Both also brought to their MBA world their highly successful career experiences.

Both arrived at the Bryan School to fulfill aspirations of expanding, diversifying, and honing the skills and talents needed to succeed even more in business. “The UNCG MBA program offered a unique kind of intimacy with our peer group where we could share and learn from one another’s actual experience,” Ryan said.

Alex noted, “The Bryan School set the expectation that there is an equal balance of contributing and taking throughout the learning experience.  We understood that we would be meeting people that we could think of as an extension of our personal network, to grow, learn, support — and to invest in one another.”

Both graduated in 2004; Alex continued his career at Syngenta Crop Protection and Ryan started down a new path with Wells Fargo, then Wachovia. The friendship they cultivated through course projects and more remained strong.

The next year a new marketing gig dropped into Alex’ lap. “I invited Ryan to collaborate with me for fun, since we both had successful careers; neither of us were thinking of starting a new business.  One client grew to many, and within months the marketing strategy and technology company, Stratagon was born,” Alex said.

Stratagon experienced exponential sales growth and in 2013 Alex and Ryan took the leap and became full-time principals of the company, leaving behind what some considered dream careers. Each had people in their inner circles questioning their sanity for leaving stability and security for the unknown.

The rewards far surpass the obstacles the two have faced. Stratagon is a dynamic and thriving firm that continues to grow expertise in a tumultuous industry.

“Our business is about thinking and understanding. What worked 30 years ago – learning the tactical activities – doesn’t work now. Business today needs thinkers more than doers. Stratagon is about solving big problems and making connections,” said Alex.

Tangible and intangible elements experienced by Alex and Ryan at the Bryan School, including collaboration, problem solving, cultural diversity, international relations, and networking, continue to flourish vibrantly at Stratagon.

Offering advice to prospective and current MBA students, Ryan said, “You must invest in the notion that coursework is not where the greatest benefit lies. Invest in the experience —including coursework—but also in the interactions, connections, mentorships, conversations, and the relationships. Don’t be myopic! Listen and learn from others.”

What’s next? “We’re taking on new clients all the time, and we’re always interested in new talent. We seek people who are naturally thinkers, or who are coachable,” Alex said.


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