Are You Ready to improve the future of work? Ryan Blair is Ready! After finishing a three-year professional playing career, Blair coached juniors for three years with the Boston Junior Rangers earning 2017-18 Eastern Hockey League Premier Coach of the Year honors. He served for a year at his alma mater, UMass-Lowell as the Director of Hockey Operations before joining the South Carolina Stingrays staff, and later leading the team as head coach. Through his competitiveness and desire to learn, grow, and help others succeed he made his way to AYR to help enterprise businesses succeed with automation.
You have a unique journey that brought you to the tech world, what happened to get you here?
I was born in Toronto, Canada with stops in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Montreal, Quebec before moving to Northern Virginia at the age of sixteen. Being at an age when it was a very challenging time to move to a new country, this is when I truly fell in love with the game of hockey……..
I took three gap years after high school graduation to take on a few college courses while becoming more passionate and focused on hockey. This was a challenging goal as I spent these years away from all of my family and friends. The ultimate goal was to realize the dream of playing college hockey.
It came true – I earned an opportunity to study and play Division 1 Hockey at UMass Lowell. An amazing four-year experience that taught me so much about life and hockey. After graduation, I spent parts of three seasons playing professionally in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL).
When my playing days were over, my passion and love for hockey brought me back to the game to be a coach in 2015. Over 7 years, I had been an Assistant and Head Coach at both the amateur and professional levels.
Tech sales was a great next step for me as I transition from a sport that has taught me everything I know about the values of teamwork, communication, and resiliency. I’m excited to be a part of a new kind of team and focus these intangible skills to help our customers find solutions.
What attracted you to AYR, and what is your role?
I loved that the company was small and that there was an opportunity for me and the company to grow. We solve a unique challenge across many different verticals which keeps us on our toes and constantly learning. The ability to learn on my own and with the support and guidance of a small team was a really important piece when deciding on my next chapter. My role as an automation strategy executive falls under business development as I look to build our brand awareness and connect with our future clients.
What was your previous experience before AYR?
Prior to joining AYR, I had no professional business experience. Most of my life to date has been dedicated to the greatest sport on the planet, hockey. I played competitive hockey through my youth years, played Division 1 college hockey, and played parts of 3 seasons as a minor professional. When my playing career was over, I got into youth/amateur coaching before jumping to the professional ranks as a coach. Though these experiences help me to be a better team player in the technology industry.
How would you describe the AYR company culture?
AYR, being a growth-stage startup, has a rapid-paced and agile work culture. It’s an inclusive culture that provides open communication and honest feedback to help us grow on a daily basis. It was a smooth transition from the team aspect of sports to the team I’m currently working with.
What is one thing that you wish people knew about your job?
It’s a lot of fun! I’m learning every single day and each day is a challenge as we look to solidify ourselves as the #1 Intelligent Document Processing platform on the planet.
How would you summarize what you do to an 8th grader?
Our mission is to help companies automate data and document tasks that are currently repetitive and manual. My daily goal is to generate awareness and excitement about how our solution can help companies become more efficient.
What inspires you about your everyday tasks?
I really do love what I do!
Every day is a challenge when you’re a little fish in a big sea. As a startup, we are competing against companies much bigger than us. In hockey, we’d be the underdog but we are also a team you’d want to see in the playoffs. Just because we are smaller, doesn’t mean we can’t do better than the rest. It’s all about the outcome!
As a team, we are continually building, evolving, and growing our amazing solution to the marketplace. So far it has been an amazing journey, I cannot wait to see what happens next, or where technology and automation will take me in life. I’m certainly looking forward to connecting and coaching more teams preparing them for the next-era of work.
Do you have any hobbies or fun interests?
Outside of work, I spend time with my wife, our twin girls, and friends in beautiful Charleston, SC. I still love the game of hockey and try to keep up with my favorite teams the best I can.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Time Travel. We have friends and family all over the United States and Canada and unfortunately, we don’t get a chance to personally connect with them enough.
What was the last book you read?
The Go-Giver. An excellent read that changes our mindset to think about giving before getting.