Some people believe in coincidences. Some people believe that everything happens for a reason. For Christian Hyatt and Christian White, 2016 Scheller College of Business Executive MBA (EMBA) alums, they believe in serendipity.
“On the first day of the Executive MBA program, you walk in and you don’t know anybody,” Hyatt said. “I saw a guy in the front row with a nametag, also named Christian, and thought that would be an easy icebreaker. So, I sat next to Christian White and got to talking with him and learned that he was also there to start a business and had a great business mind. It was fortunate that the two people in the program who were really serious about starting a business were sitting right next to each other. I think it was just serendipitous that we both wanted to start a business.”
From that first initial meeting and throughout the first couple of weeks of the program, Hyatt and White got to know each other personally. Even though the two came from drastically different backgrounds (White served in the Army and Hyatt was in consulting), the two Christians knew they were the perfect match.
“We had 17 months to vet each other to make sure ‘that’s the guy’ that I trust enough to start a business. It worked out. We came up with a business model for risk3sixty during that time. The capstone project for the EMBA Management of Technology (MOT) program was to give a pitch for a business you wanted to start and we loosely pitched risk3sixty,” Hyatt said.
Hyatt's background in consulting and information technology has brought great value to the development and continued success of risk3sixty.
Risk3sixty has two different sides in terms of business. There is the security side where the company sets up security programs for clients and manages hot topics like maintaining and maturing security and privacy programs. Risk3sixty also has a compliance side as well, where the company issues security certifications. They have also developed a platform, Phalanx, to centrally manage security, privacy, and compliance programs.
“Our platform is called Phalanx GRC,” explained White. “We chose Phalanx in reference to the Greek way of fighting where you protect the guy to your left with your shield and rely on the person to your right to protect you. The idea of looking out for your team as part of a greater unit resonated with us. A lot of companies will focus on selling a product. We’ve created technology that complements our services and then we give it away for free to our clients to enable them to build and maintain their security program. It’s a little bit of a different thought process, but the team approach is something that has really resonated with the organizations we serve. They know we have their back.”
Something that’s also really important to both Hyatt and White is creating a unique, positive culture around risk3sixty. Some of the benefits they offer to their team members include 100% healthcare benefits, unlimited time off, and a professional development plan they call the “craftsmanship program”. Their team also runs a 100-mile relay race for charity each year. Hyatt and White also take an open-book style of management where they provide the team visibility into the health of the business, financials, and strategic initiatives.
“From a culture perspective, Christian White brought in a lot from the army in building a program, leading, and building great teams,” said Hyatt. “I think I had a lot of that from playing sports my whole life and my career in consulting.”
White is a graduate of West Point and served as an infantry officer in the Army. He brings to risk3sixty his ability to lead and build teams.
White graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point and served as an infantry officer in the Army. White felt that many civilian workplaces lacked the focus on teamwork he saw in the Army.
“Everything you do in the Army is as a team. Whether it’s a small or larger unit, you depend on the person to your left and to your right. I was looking for that when I got out of the Army, and I couldn’t find it. The thought was, ‘well maybe we can build that at risk3sixty.’ I think we’ve built it by bringing the best people we could find on board, creating a culture that facilitates high quality work, and taking care of each other,” White said.
While Hyatt and White share many similarities including their work ethic, drive to create a positive culture within their company, and first names, the most important similarity is that they both decided to apply to Georgia Tech’s EMBA program.
“What attracted me initially to Georgia Tech was the language around it being at the intersection of business and technology,” White said. “That was something that spoke to me. I knew I wanted to start some sort of technology company, whatever that was. We landed on a technology enabled services company. Being in the Management of Technology program and taking a business idea and vetting it through several layers of faculty and advisors was a great opportunity.”
Risk3sixty has continued to grow since its establishment in 2016. With the launch of the Phalanx GRC platform, Hyatt and White show no signs of slowing down.
“If we’re investing in two things, we are investing in our own team and in our customers,” White said. “That is why we do everything that we do. We can’t have great customers unless we have a great team that is supported, developed, and nurtured. The actions that we take as a business enable us to reinvest in the things that are important to us.”