Names: Ryan & Kellie Shirley
Ages: 27 and 25
Majors at GC: Management & Marketing | Communications: PR & Advertising
Years you both graduated: 2013 | 2015
Currently reside: Seattle, WA (Ryan) | Atlanta, GA (Kellie)
Why did yall choose Georgia College?
Ryan: I chose GC because I felt like it had something to prove. Kellie and I both went to a private high school in Marietta, GA full of Vanderbilt-bound peers, but GC spoke to me in the sense that it was under the radar and seemed like a good blend of academic and personal growth opportunities.
Kellie: A main reason I chose GC was to follow in Ryan’s footsteps – there was just something about the opportunity to have your big brother with you throughout your college years that was exciting to me, and I wanted to take full advantage. Little did we know, our youngest brother would follow suit as well, leading to one year with all three of us together – it was such a fun year! In addition, I thrive in smaller settings and felt that GC was the perfect balance for me where I could have family close by if needed but also branch out and find my own path.
Did you have a favorite professor or class?
Ryan: Chuck Ryan, Nick Beadles and Doreen Sams are all terrific educators and had a lasting effect on my professional life. Dr. Ryan and Dr. Beadles fostered discussion in the most beneficially Socratic environment for me at the time, and Dr. Sams taught us to tell stories with data, a skill that is currently in high-demand. I loved Dr. Duesing too as my faculty advisor for SAM club. He understood the enterprise and its complexities, a skill that cannot be understated.
Kellie: Dr. Land had a big impact on me my senior year by pushing me out of my comfort zone and encouraging me to think outside of the box. Her approach to teaching is extremely practical and realistic and she played a large role in setting me up for post-graduation success. I also loved Professor Criscoe and her spunky energy and for providing me with a once-in-a-lifetime experience of having my own radio show on WGUR with my friend Erin one semester – we may have only had 2 listeners for every show, but it was so much fun.
What inspired yall to start Pursuit and Tie? How did you come up with the name as a brand?
Ryan: I came right from school into a recruiting role at Optomi and had an immediate affinity for the storytelling component of candidacy. I also did a lot of free reviews for fraternity brothers. Kellie asked me why I wasn’t making any money providing this valuable service and we got to thinking.
Kellie: Our original name that I came up with was Shirley Solutions, which was pretty terrible I’ll admit. Creating a brand name is hard. So, after being brain dead thinking of a new alternative, I started forcing all of my friends to brainstorm and a co-worker from Orangetheory actually came up with the name Pursuit & Tie. At first, we weren’t sure about it. But the more we noodled on other ideas, the more we came to terms with it, and P&T was the perfect fit. Creative, yet memorable was our goal and I think we accomplished that.
Why did yall decide to offer other services such as resume building etc.?
Ryan: Our bread and butter continues to be resume enhancements. We do not see this changing as there continues to be more flavors of work available to the modern professional, each requiring their own kind of resume and expecting unique stories. However, we noticed early on that there is a lack of clarity around cover letters and even public speaking, so we began to research and develop solutions in those areas too. “Opportunity lies in the gaps” and there are about 1.5 million gaps in the modern candidacy process.
Kellie: We started out mostly with a resume and cover letter focus, but as Ryan mentioned, we built upon those services as we learned our client’s needs. Our #1 goal is to provide our clients with access to all of the tools that will bring about success in the workplace, and we believe those to include anything from having a properly written and dynamic resume, all the way to knowing how to budget your money when your first paycheck comes in the door. We started with two services, and now we have eight!
What is the most rewarding part about your career?
Ryan: We have helped a few folks transform their narrative, which has helped them have instant success. Some people have everything they need in their toolbelt, but it’s just a matter of working with them more closely to craft the right story. I get tons of joy hearing that another client found a job that they thought was previously unattainable due to our work.
Kellie: Besides from being an entrepreneur and simply owning my own business (which I always thought could happen, but found reasons to doubt myself), I get the most joy from tackling this journey and challenge with Ryan. Through this whole experience, we have not only grown closer on a personal level but also have been able to see how each other thinks in a business setting, and I just find it to be so much fun (he might disagree…). In addition, it’s extremely rewarding being able to not only build up people’s self confidence in all of their professional material but also assist them in finding a job that they actually enjoy and thrive at every day.
How did Georgia College help you follow your passion?
Ryan: I met my wife as a freshman down the hall in Wells, so it has inspired quite a few. I think the network of peers and groups has helped us to remain a valuable player for students and their organizations like my fraternity Delta Sig, who we are close to inking a contract with as a premiere provider of member development.
Kellie: It unfortunately didn’t give me a husband, but I grew in more ways than I ever could have imagined by attending GC. The variety of experiences I had helped to build my confidence and encourage me to take risks after graduation, to not be afraid to say “yes” to new opportunities and to remember to always follow my passion, not the money.
Where do you see the company heading in the future?
Ryan: I think it’s easier to think about what P&T won’t be versus the million options around who it could help and what it can do. It is clear the consultancy need for these services is high, but I don’t want us to ever become a staffing firm or a transactional business; the former because our value often comes from not having a tieback to a specific company or attempting to place folks in any position not perfect for them. Further, we try to encourage our clients to only use us once, and I never want P&T to become a crutch for individual success.
I’d love it if in five years a hiring manager asks their prospective employee, “Is this a P&T approved resume?” during the hiring process, which would show that the employer feels confident that the candidate can bring value.
Kellie: I see us scaling more on the virtual and event side vs. relying mostly on contractual clients – we hope to grow virtually in terms of live (or pre-recorded) webinars that people can have access to whenever they need them or even hosting larger workshops where we can provide our services to many attendees at once (and have one-on-one interaction if needed as well). All in all, since we have already learned to scale this business from two opposite sides of the country, I am very confident that there is a lot of future potential, regardless of the direction that we take. Have ideas? Let us know!
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