In the fall of 2003, a small fifth grade boy marched up to Corbin Doyle, Middle School and Upper School Video Production teacher, and handed him a business card. He said, “hi, I’m Ryan Kline, and I can’t wait to be in your classes”—though he wouldn’t be able to enroll in his first film class until two years later.
Now, Mr. Kline continues to make himself known early. At age 24, he is already a major player in the growth of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s companies in China.
While Ryan Kline ’11 was a student at Greenhill, he cultivated passions for both Chinese and film, taking two trips to China with Greenhill and taking Video Production classes all throughout Middle and Upper School. When Mr. Kline heard about an opportunity to further his passions under the leadership of Mark Cuban, he said he couldn’t pass up the chance to apply.
“I didn’t totally know what the job was that I was applying for, but I had a sense that it would leverage my strengths in video and Chinese,” said Mr. Kline.
Mr. Kline got the job, and two years later, he is Mr. Cuban’s go-to guy when it comes to anything relating to China.
“[Ryan] is a rock star,” said Mr. Cuban in an interview with the Dallas Observer. “He gets it done.”
Mr. Kline is responsible for growing both Cuban’s businesses in China and the Mavericks’ presence there. He does this through social media efforts, campaigns and frequent trips to the country.
His most recent project involves working with Chinese Mavs fans to rename the Mavericks in Chinese. For the past 20 years, the Chinese name for the Mavericks has translated to “little cow,” which is unrepresentative of the powerful horse portrayed in the teams’ logo. Under Mr. Kline’s leadership, the Mavericks created a contest to find a new name for the Mavericks in China. The contest, which started in September, has already received close to 50,000 submissions.
“I hope that the people that vote for our team name, whether they’re Mavs fans now or not, will feel like they’re part of the family, and hopefully will start following us more closely,” Mr. Kline said.
Many of the projects Mr. Kline works on that involve social media, including this one, require a two step translation process: the first is from English to Chinese, and the second is from American social media to Chinese social media. Mr. Kline said that this process is one of the hardest parts of his job.
“What’s challenging about working online in China is that every platform we have here Twitter, Facebook, Google almost all of those are blocked on the Chinese Internet. I have to learn to use the Chinese versions of those platforms,” he said.
Mr. Kline mostly uses Weibo, a Chinese social media platform similar to Twitter, and WeChat, which is like Facebook.
Being challenged is one of Mr. Kline’s favorite parts of his job. He said Mr. Cuban encourages him to explore and learn new things, even when they aren’t directly related to the work he’s been assigned. This creates room for new challenges and experiences.
“My job changes all the time. I don’t think I’ve worked on the same project for more than a few months, so I’m always doing something different and I don’t get bored at work because I’m always getting to try something new,” Mr. Kline said.
According to Mr. Doyle, Kline’s leadership, adaptability and potential were all evident even when Kline was a student at Greenhill.
“You could ask ten peers that were his classmates, and they would all say the same thing: it’s just quality, humility, unbelievable hard work, vision and drive, and he’s just one of those people who brings people together,” Mr. Doyle said.
Photo courtesy of Ryan Kline
Originally published in the November 2017 print issue