Since her graduation from The Richmond MBA in 2007, Ryann Lofchie has skyrocketed to become CEO of The Frontier Project, and put the company on the map. The group has been named one of Virginia’s Fastest Growing Companies three times, as well as made the Fortune 5000 list three times. We recently chatted with her to learn about how she made her way to the top. 

Q: What is The Frontier Project?

A: The Frontier Project is an organizational transformation consultancy, so we mostly work with large well-established companies that are looking to align their cultures and employee environment with what high-caliber talent are expecting today. We focus on cultural shifts through consulting, communications, and leadership development. We partner with companies to create these environments so they’re able to allow employees to reach their full potential, and in turn, reach the organizations’ strategic goals.

Q: What was your path from graduating from the Richmond MBA to becoming CEO?

A: I joined The Frontier Project in 2008, six months after its founding, to develop a high-level leadership program for a client. Joining The Frontier Project sounded like an awesome opportunity because I could have a hand in shaping the culture of the company, which is something I’d always wanted to do. I took over as CEO in 2010 after I purchased 51% of the business. Our founder was much better suited to spend his time winning new business, and because of my graduate degree and career path, I excelled in running the business. He was focused more externally, and I was focused more internally, making sure our systems and strategy were working.

Q: How did The Frontier Project get started?

A: We’ve been in business for almost 11 years, and when The Frontier Project was founded, they had one project with one client. Since then, we’ve tried a lot of different things. It’s been an awesome journey to be small and nimble and work with our clients in a very customized way to help them meet their goals. Really in the last year and a half, we have solidified around what we love doing and are most qualified to do, which is organizational culture-shift work. It’s been kind of a winding road to get here, but it feels really good to have a primary focus on organizational transformation.

Q: What makes The Frontier Project unique?

A: Our understanding of people. We partner really well with other consulting companies because for the most part they come in and recommend process changes, black and white things, but we come in and say this is going to be messy. We deal with the human side of business. We want the people to change, and change is something that is universally feared by most people. I think we do a great job of understanding why people do the things they do, combining that with the business acumen to understand what the organization is trying to achieve, and customizing our solutions for that specific work environment. Our clients get a specialized, tailored, and robust support system to help get through that change. We want to leave an organization better than we found it.

Q: What did you learn in the MBA program that helped you along this journey?

A: I had never taken a finance class before I got into the MBA program. I benefitted so greatly from that foundation. I couldn’t do my job today without it. 

Q: What do you have going on now?

A: We’ve been working internally on our own culture shift, which has been really interesting. It’s so much easier to diagnose other people’s problems than trying to figure out your own. But in our journey, we had experienced considerable growth, which has given us a lot of recognition in the past. But we’ve realized, though recognition is nice, it isn’t that important. So now, we’re focusing in on our strengths and determining what we really care about: working with people we love, doing work we love and making an impact. We’ve shifted to a totally different mindset of how we approach our work to be much more authentic to who we are as a company. At times it’s been a difficult process, but we’re so much stronger now as a result.