Good Culture: A Chat with ASG Social Chair Ryan Straughn
How ASG prioritizes positivity, unity and professional growth with its social culture
You know a company has an awesome culture when employees invite their friends to work there. It’s also a good sign when employees are eager to help drive that culture forward.
ASG Technical Project Manager Ryan Straughn is both a product and an arbiter of that culture at ASG. It makes sense. Ryan is easy to talk to and quick to crack a joke. He helps manage materials as part of ASG’s Process and System Engineering technical team to ensure client compliance to medical device regulations. His team’s work is vital to patient welfare. As social chair he organizes Thirsty Thursday, ASG’s monthly after-hours gathering. His dedication has been instrumental in bringing ASG’s growing team together.
What brought you to ASG?
I went to college with Hannah Parker, an engineer who used to work here. She reached out to me and asked, “Hey, do you want a job?” I interviewed with ASG and they liked me, but they didn’t have a specific role lined up. They said, “We think you’re a good fit for the company, but we don’t have any work for you and we don’t want you sitting around bored. Reach out to us if you ever need or want a job and we’ll see what we can do.” When my previous job started making cuts during the Covid lockdown, I reached out to Logan Metzger, who leads the Development Engineering and Technical Project Teams. After a second interview, I was hired!
What was it like when you first started at ASG?
For the first six months, I did a lot of internal work. When my co-worker Rylan Wolfe went on paternity leave, his role needed to be filled. Learning how to do Rylan’s job was a trial by fire. I stepped in and helped draft a lot of reports. When Rylan returned, he asked, “Can I keep him?” I’d shown a general level of competence, and our personalities meshed well. As the amount of work and the team expanded, I got more into a project manager role. I started reaching out to suppliers myself and organizing meetings, focusing on organization and doing less of the technical work.
What stands out to you about ASG’s values?
Accountability and integrity are the ASG values I align most with. When you’re working in a medical device space, you have so many regulations and things that have to be done a certain way. You have to meet a lot of requirements. These values help me orient myself toward what’s important, as well as who to listen to and what to listen to.
How did you start organizing Thirsty Thursday?
My initial goal was to start a softball team. I also enjoyed the Thirsty Thursdays I’d attended. I like any chance to get free drinks! My friend Hannah, who brought ASG to my attention, had run Thirsty Thursdays in the past. When she left I took over as social chair. I organized Thirsty Thursdays and also started that softball team. It took a while to get the team off the ground and onto the field, but I finally got that going.
How do you organize social events for ASG?
I created a social team that meets once a month for 30 minutes to share ideas. We started mixing up the format for people at ASG who don’t drink or have families that they want to bring. I didn’t really want to just go to a bar every time. Together we came up with Movie Night and Smash Brothers Night, both of which took place in our building. I enjoyed both, and it’s a lot cheaper to have pizza in the building than dinner and drinks at bars every time.
What’s something you’ve learned about ASG and your colleagues from organizing and attending social events?
Thirsty Thursdays confirmed what I already thought. One of the things I really like about ASG is the lack of hierarchy. I can go talk to Doug, the head of the company, directly. I can go talk to any team leads directly. There are no communication barriers between us. I can just talk about pretty much anything and find common ground, which I’ve really enjoyed. As a project manager in a specific area, I don’t work with other people that often. Part of what I really like about Thirsty Thursdays is getting to talk with everyone individually.
Why is it important to build relationships with your co-workers?
Finding a social circle is very difficult for young adults, especially if you move to a new city. While I don’t recommend having work be your only social circle, it’s certainly the easiest one to get into and a great one to have. It’s nice to vent to people who understand the problems you face. If you go home and talk to your roommate or spouse, they might understand the general frustration, but they don’t fully understand the problem. It’s important to have that connection with people who understand the problems you’re facing. They may have advice, or just a very active listening ear.
What role does mentorship play in work relationships at ASG?
When you’re having a problem, it can be helpful to know that someone’s faced similar issues before. Sometimes, mentorship can just be, “Yeah, that’s just kind of the way it’s going to be. You’re gonna have to endure that.” It isn’t always great to hear, but it’s helpful to know that other people have faced the same challenges and that you’re not alone. Other times, you’ll hear people say, “We’re gonna do this on this device.” Mentoring moments come when you can step up and say, “But that’ll affect this other project.” That kind of communication doesn’t always get done because our work is typically narrowed to a specific focus. More casual conversations at Thirsty Thursdays can bridge those gaps in communication.
How does ASG’s culture extend to clients?
The companies we work with have unique cultures, some of which are different from ours. We aren’t always without conflict, but if people can understand that a disagreement is not an argument, then it’s healthy. One of our key tenants is client success, so you’re always gearing yourself to try and make sure you’re giving clients what they want and communicating what you believe it is they need based on the scope of your project. Part of the integrity and accountability aspect is ensuring that we’re communicating what we believe is the best path forward, but accepting when clients don’t agree.
Does ASG’s culture sound like a good fit for you? Check out our Careers page to learn more and stay updated on open positions.