Ryan Named a CEO of the Year

illustration of trophy that says CEO of the Year

The Orlando Business Journal recognized 20 executives for their “impressive business stewardship, work in cultivating an inclusive, collaborative culture, and their involvement in the local community.” We think the best way to truly convey how we feel about Ryan is to share our nomination.

Nominee’s key contributions, innovative business accomplishments and strategic business initiatives at the firm in the past 12 months, as well as any special projects or challenges nominee had to manage:

Ryan has driven Net Conversion’s double­-digit annual growth for 13 years while preserving its unique and cherished culture. In the last year, he created our Net Con Proud award to recognize employees who most embodied Net Con’s values each month, on top of our weekly award for employees who go above and beyond (Give a $hit). 

One of Ryan’s proudest accomplishments of 2019 was moving his team into their “forever home”, Net Con HQ. The building is a physical representation of Ryan’s professional beliefs and Net Conversion’s values, particularly teamwork. The open floorplan fosters comfortable and ongoing cross-departmental communication that makes innovating easy. One of Ryan’s key tenets is to “fail fast.” He instills in us that failure is inherent, expected even, but that what matters is how employees respond to it. Teams are encouraged to test any idea they have, and if or when it doesn’t work, pivot to make it work. And that’s paid off; under Ryan’s guidance, our team’s work received multiple Adrian Awards in recognition of digital marketing excellence, earned Facebook Preferred Partner status, and became Google Premier Partners and Microsoft Select Agency Partners all in the past year. 

With the new building came room for more desks (standing desks of course). Net Conversion hired twenty-four new employees and interns in 2019, making it our biggest recruitment year ever. Ryan restructured the organization to capitalize on this growth; he created a new content marketing team to rebrand and create materials to fit an evolving company, concurrent with its new website launch. He launched a new SEO line of business as a complimentary service to core Net Con functionality. He expanded the technology team, fueling them with additional resources as he sees them as a key to the future success of both Net Con and as a stand-alone entity with proprietary software, Conversionomics. He restructured the Marketing department under brilliant Vice President, Kristina Canada, to foster collaboration and integration of traditional and online media efforts. Finally, he brought on a full-time HR manager to ensure employees have the support they need. Ryan did all of this without losing focus on the Net Con core pillars of paid media and analytics. In the face of constant change, Net Conversion was recognized in Inc.’s Best Workplaces, Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies, OBJ’s Fast 50, and Florida Trend’s Best Companies to Work for in Florida. 

Ryan’s priority will always be maintaining Net Conversion’s special culture as it grows. That involves always listening to his employees, and taking action whenever needed. Last year he launched our first internal Employee Satisfaction and Engagement Survey, followed by HR-led focus groups centered around popular points of feedback. One such being the ability to work from home – and as a result Net Conversion established an ongoing work from home policy, much to the delight of its employees. 

Truly an effective leader in change management, Ryan ensures that Net Conversion will never stagnate. The nature of the work at Net Conversion requires one to constantly question campaigns and strategies in order to continuously improve, optimize, and push the boundaries of performance. Ryan practices that same mentality in terms of Net Conversion; he steadily looks for opportunities to make us better and to better impact client success. He ensures analysts’ time is spent with insights, critically thinking about client performance instead of simply reporting. To measure that, Ryan also created our first Client Satisfaction and Engagement Survey, finding that 100% of our clients would recommend us as an agency to friends and colleagues.  Our quality of work continues to grow, and 2019 was our best financial year yet. 

Nominee’s community involvement in the past 12 months:

Ryan has led company philanthropy service projects with Ronald McDonald House, Orlando Magic Youth Foundation, Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando, Nathaniel’s Hope, A Gift for Teaching, Clean the World, Orlando Charity Challenge, My Neighbor’s Children, and Second Harvest Food Bank. Net Conversion has also sponsored Franklin’s Friends, Crummer Graduate School of Business Alumni Fundraisers, Orlando Magic Boys & Girls Club, Boone High School Athletics, and works with the YMCA of Central Florida.

Your reason for nominating them:

Ryan doesn’t just talk the talk; he embodies our vision and values every day, making sure we all have the resources we need to reach our potential. The structure of the company is set up so that no door is ever closed; employees can walk into a Vice President’s office at any time to work through issues or bounce around ideas. Additionally, employees have opportunities to work with different teams, self-identify new projects, and champion new wider-industry initiatives. This creates the potential for a continuously skill­sharpening career. 

What makes Ryan the most remarkable CEO anyone could hope to meet is the way he practices our core value, “Give a Shit.” About our work, our clients, and each other, because we’re not alone here. And Ryan does not take that lightly. His “open door policy” extends far beyond what the typical boss practices – let alone the typical CEO. 

Ryan has calculated out projected mortgage payments when an employee was stressed about buying their first house, and gifted his personal televisions to employees moving into new homes. He frequently cleans out wedding, honeymoon, and baby registries. Every year he hosts a Thanksgiving turkey fry at his home with his family and invites every employee. He is always giving advice and making sure everyone is flourishing in their life outside of Net Conversion.  You would be hard pressed to find another CEO anywhere that truly gives a shit about each and every one of his employees the way Ryan does. He says, “my sole job is to make sure my employees are happy, because we’re family.”

Ryan also believes in work/life balance;  “it should be work+life, not work vs life.” He instituted our work from home policy, and has never charged a sick day to PTO so that the person has time to get better without stress. He also bends PTO policy for employee’s once-in-a-lifetime occasions, allowing them extra days grace for honeymoons and weddings.

Ryan also says “Net Conversion is not just a job, it’s a lifestyle.” That’s why he makes every effort to make employees feel like family with catered lunches, happy hours, team retreats, renting out movie theatres, and turning our basement into the ultimate hangout zone with full bar, ping-pong, cornhole, video games, and a piano. He is never too busy or too above getting silly with his team. He loves “snack-bombing” the team, where he randomly splurges on treats for the office, personally cooking lunch for people (hotdogs on rollers or bolognese from scratch in our commercial kitchen), hosting costume contests, playing pickup basketball and board games, and bringing back personalized souvenirs from his travels. He even made cardboard cutouts of the employees who work remotely – because he misses them. 

Ryan has built a culture so powerful that it permeates every aspect of working at Net Conversion. He has ensured that Net Conversion is a place not just where you fit in, but where you belong. People are free to express themselves and their thoughts and opinions, ­whether that be about new optimizations on accounts, ideas for internal process or cultural improvements, or what really was the best Star Wars movie. Ryan is a conscious leader whose deliberate actions and words positively transform the company and those inside it – his family – to be the best possible versions of themselves.

Turning Strategies Into “Always On” Tactics.

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