A determined and successful entrepreneur of one of the fastest-growing companies in the world, Chad Richison has built a technology juggernaut in a state where the landscape of big business is dotted primarily with oil and gas. Today, innovation drives Oklahoma’s economy and the major driver comes from a graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma.
In 1998, at the age of 27, Richison founded Paycom, an online human capital management software company. Thanks to his visionary leadership Paycom now stands as one of the state’s largest employers, boasting one of the largest market caps of any publicly traded company in Oklahoma. Paycom is a company with a fanatical focus on seeking innovations from the customer perspective, making businesses operate smoother, easier and ultimately more profitably. Paycom is proof that an innovative technology corporation can sprout several states to the east of Silicon Valley.
Even at a young age, Richison displayed the grit and drive needed to be one of Oklahoma’s brightest business professionals. Raised on a farm in his birthplace of Tuttle, Richison was the first person in his family to earn a college degree.
“While I had a 4.0 in high school, I was not a good standardized test-taker,” said Richison. “In fact, I took the ACT and made a low score.” But he didn’t let that stand in his way. In 1989, he enrolled at the University of Central Oklahoma, then known as Central State University. Richison’s history of hard work paid off at UCO where he eventually made the honor roll.
“I took college seriously because I wanted a good career,” Richison explained. “The relationships I made at UCO have lasted forever.”
He graduated from UCO in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in German. A quarter of a century later, Richison has emerged as an influential technologist and entrepreneur.
In his climb to the top, he hasn’t lost track of his philanthropic spirit. In the past few years alone, he has donated more than $14 million to his alma mater, in addition to creating The Green Shoe Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to improve people's well-being through workshops, counseling and therapy sessions.
His success proves that hard work and grit can indeed farm the business acumen necessary to create the state’s largest technology company, and Richison credits much of who he is to the time he spent and the challenges he overcame while attending UCO.
“To me, a degree is proof of someone’s commitment to invest in themselves,” he said. “It is proof that someone is teachable and still craves learning. I am thankful to UCO for giving me the opportunities to advance my personal and professional growth objectives.”