Alumni Profile - Frank J. Ryan

Sep 24th, 2019

Frank Ryan
Alumni Profile - Frank J. Ryan

Frank J. Ryan grew up in St. John’s, NL. He graduated from Memorial University with a B.Sc.(Hons) in 2011, majoring in Earth Science and minoring in Business Administration. In 2014, he completed an MBA at Memorial with a focus in finance and leadership.

Following two summer internships with BP Canada and Imperial Oil, Mr. Ryan landed a job as a geoscientist with Chevron Canada in 2011, where he pursued his professional geoscientist (P.Geo.) designation. For next three years he worked on the Hibernia field from the St. John’s Chevron office, before being transferred to Calgary to work on a business development team. He spent two years analyzing business deals before returning to the province in 2016 to work in his family’s financial planning firm, Ryco Financial. He’s currently the group benefits and group retirement solutions subject matter expert and holds the designation of Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS). 

What drew you to study science?

I was drawn to Earth Science from the moment I took EASC1000. I have always enjoyed the outdoors; I had a knack for physical sciences and I’ve always been driven to figure out how things work. Like, how did this mountain get here?  The freedom of interpretation within the technical bounds of Earth Sciences was very intriguing to me. I think that’s what really brought me into Earth Sciences – the story held within every landscape, mountain range, oil field, or mine, and the cutting-edge techniques we have for unraveling the details and telling their stories. 

In what ways has studying science affected your world view?

Studying sciences has led me to be analytical of information and appropriately skeptical of opinions. I tend to look past the surface of most issues, landscapes and problems and try to decipher the root cause. Sciences have encouraged me to use all the information at hand to make the best decision possible, and my business training has encouraged me to only pay for information that will meaningfully impact the decision. 

Are there any memories which stand out from your time here at Memorial?

I have so many memories of my time at Memorial and the friends I’ve made along the way. The ones that stand out the most to me are the field schools within the Earth Sciences program in NL and in the UK. I still remember our second-year field school, sitting on an outcrop on part of the world renowned East Coast Trail, overlooking the ocean with the cool salty breeze blowing and being lectured on how this place came to be; how there was a volcano spewing lava there at one time, and how NL was closer to the equator and had a more tropical climate at another time…etc. One of our first professors reminded us one day that “everything happens, it’s only a matter of when.” That’s a good way to wrap your head around the geologic timescale.

Why did you choose your current career and how does your Science degree help you?

I grew up in a family business and when I entered to university, I think I wanted to try something new to broaden my horizons. I had a fulfilling undergraduate experience and while my geoscience career was only five years, I still use the analytical skills I learned from my science degree every day. My brother (and business partner) completed an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry before doing his MBA and entering our family business. Our science backgrounds are one of our competitive advantages in our industry. They allow us to focus on details others miss, develop and test hypothesis, and speak the language of a lot of our clients who work in technical roles, for example physicians, geologists and engineers.  

What is your favourite aspect of your profession?

I often thought working for a multinational energy company gave me a chance to change the world, and if I stuck with it, after 30-40 years that may be true, but my new profession allows me to change the world for someone every day. We still do a great deal of data analytics in our firm and finding the piece of the puzzle that was perhaps looked over previously or missed, helps us create value for our clients. As part of a family-owned business, my profession allows me to use science and business skills together to drive success.

What advice would you give a current and/or future student?

Do the best job possible at whatever it is that you’re currently doing. Whether you are volunteering, working part time, studying for exams, researching, being a team member, being a team leader, or planning a mixer do it to the best of your ability, ask for help when you need it, and find a way to succeed. The more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. And, have some fun along the way.

What inspired you to start your own scholarship?

When I won my first scholarship, I was truly beside myself. I remember immediately trying to find out as much as possible about the generous donor and writing a letter of thanks. It gave me a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and confidence going into my exams and assured me that I had made the right decision about my degree program… I also was encouraged to apply for other scholarships as I thought ‘If I can get one, why not try for another?’

So, I began applying for the geology and geophysics societies and foundations scholarships across Canada.

During my time at Memorial I was fortunate enough to win 24 scholarships and awards. Because of the generosity of others, I was free to volunteer my time with national boards, travel to conferences and field schools, become president of our student society, study to maintain decent grades, and eventually find meaningful employment without the worry of finding part time jobs or creating debt. When I graduated, I vowed that as soon as I was able, I would start to re-pay the money I was awarded to new deserving students because I know how much it means as a student. Hopefully, one day they’ll do the same. 

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?

My dad told me a long time ago: if it is to be, it is up to me. As I grew and studied, I understood more and more about what this short phrase meant. I learned it’s not about doing everything yourself or only trusting yourself. That will only get you so far. Most of our lives are spent working with a team, whether it’s your business team or a hockey team. So, it’s best to get used to it and find ways to succeed as a team. Next, I learned it’s about accepting and understanding that the onus is on you to succeed no matter the circumstance. Failures happen, placing blame on others for failures will not make anything better. If you take accountability, adapt and find a way forward, it shows leadership and builds referent power. Finally, I learned it’s about finding motivation to take initiative especially when it’s difficult to find. Taking positive actions to build character, skills, work ethic, and believing in yourself prepares you and gives you the confidence to take on the next challenge whatever it may be.