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The NRF Foundation shapes retail’s future by building awareness of the industry through statistics and stories; developing talent through education, experiences and scholarships; and fostering career growth among people who work in retail.

The NRF Foundation shapes retail’s future by building awareness of the industry through statistics and stories; developing talent through education, experiences and scholarships; and fostering career growth among people who work in retail.

Dream BIG Class of 2013

Ryan Sexauer

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Ryan Sexauer

Ryan Sexauer, district sales leader at Sleep Train Inc., is pursuing a bachelor's degree in business from University of Phoenix.

How a family-oriented Sleep Train District Manager turned a job into a career

Ryan Sexauer started working at Sleep Train as a way to support himself while earning his Associate’s degree, although he didn’t initially see himself staying in the retail industry. He’d spent a few years jumping around from job to job, and his self-described attitude was very much “go with the flow.” However, in quick succession, Ryan entered store management at Sleep Train, was promoted to District Manager, got married, and welcomed his first child. “My priorities shifted and there was a lot of new responsibility in every part of my life,” Ryan explains. He dug into his new position, and before long, his newfound dedication paid off.

Twelve years after starting at Sleep Train, Ryan knows that what he found was not just a job, but a career. As a Dream BIG scholarship recipient, Ryan is ready for the next step by earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Business with a concentration in Sustainable Enterprise Management. He knows his degree will keep him competitive when he’s up for the next big promotion.

Ryan’s excited about the scholarship not just because it will offer him new professional opportunities and ease the financial burden of returning to school, but also because it will challenge him personally and help him become a better role model to his young son.

It’s the power of people – the customers, his team and his family– that’s motivated him in his success at Sleep Train, he says. Ryan is committed to coaching and developing his staff. “Everyone is unique so you have to be able to adapt on the fly and communicate effectively to different personality types,” Ryan says. Just like he did himself, he encourages all of his team members to set goals -- and he challenges them to think beyond what they might assume they can achieve.

If he can do it, so can they.


The National Retail Federation collaborates with University of Phoenix to offer the Dream BIG Scholarship to people who work in retail. Meet the Class of 2013 and learn more about the Dream BIG Scholarship.