From Student to Educator and Industry Leader
Two-time Widener graduate Ryan Raiker teaches the next generation of students at his alma mater, all while making a name for himself in the marketing, technology, and automation industries.
- School of Business
It’s as if Ryan Raiker never left Widener.
Fast-forward a few years, Ryan is still teaching and mentoring the next generation of Widener students, splitting his time between his day job as senior director of product marketing at ABBYY, a multi-national software company where he has spent the last two years leading a team of 30 people across 14 countries working in the process automation space.
My story at Widener is not over. I’m on campus every week and for the foreseeable future I’d love to continue. Ultimately you have a place to come home to, and I feel that there’s a home for me at Widener. — Ryan Raiker '16 '17
That's a rather unusual stance when considering Ryan didn’t even want to apply to Widener, let alone attend. His mother thought the university would be a good fit, but Ryan didn’t want to listen to mom, and admits tossing the admission marketing materials when they arrived.
But a chance encounter with the Pride’s hockey coach and a visit to campus changed everything.
“I absolutely fell in love. There was a class on the library steps, I sat, listened, and was even invited by the professor to participate as a guest to her class. Now that I teach, I try to bring the classroom outside in the same way,” weather permitting, he said. “When I visited campus, I found in one day, a campus I fit with.”
Ryan found much more. He found a launching pad to a successful career in technology and marketing. He is intent on sharing his knowledge and experience with others.
Though still in the early stages of his career, Ryan has made a name for himself, emerging as a consultant and thought leader in his field. He began writing, mainly for himself and his mother, since, as he put it – “in the early days of publishing, she was the only one reading.” He focused on the topics he was passionate about – process mining, marketing, and startups. Ryan started to attract attention for his insights and has been quoted by NBC, MarketWatch, Yahoo! News, and other media outlets.
Industry Era magazine recently named him a Director of the Year for his “excellence in the marketing industry, specifically the digital space.” The award “recognizes the leaders whose ongoing commitment to innovation, renovation of workplace practices, and streamlining of business performance has produced tangible and transformative results.”
Of the honor, Ryan says, “it’s incredible, but I do get a lot of imposter syndrome.”
Before he passed, Ryan’s father told him to leave a legacy. Ryan is taking the advice to heart, wanting to make an impact on others. Teaching at his alma mater is one way he does that.
While still a student, Ryan began teaching leadership workshops in Widener’s Leadership Institute. He had a fear of being in front of people and thought running a workshop would help him overcome it.
It did, and Ryan found he loved the experience of interacting with students. Since graduating, he’s been teaching digital media informatics, business, and project management classes, sharing his experience of working in both the private and public sectors.
“I’ve been able to bring the real-world into the classroom,” said Ryan. “And I don’t shy away from the idea that I’m familiar with what these students are going through since it’s only been a few years since I was in their shoes.”
Ryan honed his leadership skills on campus by taking on prominent roles within his fraternity and student government. He advises current students to get involved.
“You don’t need to be high achiever, but having a seat and getting involved, even if it’s community service, it teaches you networking and time management,” said Ryan. “You don’t realize how valuable these real-life skills are."
Ryan was also the beneficiary of strong mentorship from several professors within the School of Business Administration, who helped him navigate his studies, his career trajectory, and the hurdles he encountered in his personal life, especially following the death of his father.
Today, those same mentors are now Ryan’s faculty peers, as he seeks to emulate their example with his own students.
“One of Widener’s core educational pillars is leadership and I think that emboldens me, and I run with that,” he said.