Mark Stryker chalks his achievements up to two things: luck and dedication. He likes to say, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.
“It’s a bit of luck – being in the right place at the right time—and a lot of hard work out there. A lot of that West Virginia University had a part in,” he says. “It doesn’t mean that everything goes your way all the time. It just means that when it doesn’t go your way, it is what it is. You keep going and eventually win.”
Since 1995, Mark has held Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer positions in information-driven organizations. But, he also says that titles aren’t that important when working for small companies. It’s more about carrying out the act of creation and capturing clients in places where there weren’t any before, something his current company compares to the art of plate spinning.
“If you’re growing and evolving in a very powerful way, there should be more plates spinning up there than there are hands to spin the plates,” Mark explains. “When one plate gets a little wobbly, you spin it up, then reach out and grab another one. There’s almost always more to do than you can comfortably do, and that’s also what facilitates the growth—not being comfortable.”
The Charleston, W.Va., native currently lives in Texas and is the COO for Extreme Technologies, Inc., an information technology company that supports clients on three continents and five countries.
“We really focus down on people. Technology is a people equation, not a computer’s equation,” he says. “Most people aren’t versed in technology – they’re business professionals trying to achieve commercial goals. One of the things we talk about here is seeing through the technology and to the business of our clients, because at the end of the day the technology is only a tool. And if it’s not doing the things it should be doing for the client, then it’s not a very good tool.”
Mark, a ’92 graduate of WVU’s College of Business and Economics, carries that special blueprint over to his involvement with WVU’s Lone Star Alumni Chapter.
“Supporting the University is always a great thing to do. The people I have met through our local chapter have significantly reduced the distance between me and WVU,” he says. “We’re actually working to build the presence of the University here in Texas, and we are succeeding.”
Though he didn’t know it at the time, Mark adds that the education he received from WVU “pre-seeded the ground” for his then-unknown future and career.
“WVU really prepared me well for coming out into the world and not being over-awed,” he explains. “It’s okay to have awe in your life, but you don’t want so much that you are unable to execute and progress. I came out of WVU ready to do something.”
Some of his favorite memories of WVU are hanging out with his Kappa Alpha fraternity brothers, Homecoming, playing Frisbee at the Mountainlair, going to Cheat Lake and most of all the breadth of people he met while at school.
“What I miss most are the people. That’s the real thing,” Mark says. “When I miss things, I miss the smells, the sights. Even if I had all of those things and not the people, it wouldn’t mean a whole lot.”
For advice to upcoming graduates in the field of finance or information technology, Mark says to take every chance available and not be afraid to make mistakes in the first few years after graduating.
“Coming out of school with the education you get at WVU and the experiences you gain offers a great platform to go and explore. Take a few chances and really see how much you can accomplish. See how far you can go.”
This article written by Cordia Lucas, a WVU professional writing senior