Co-Founder & CEO
Location: St. Louis, MO
Industry: Digital Agency
Sheila Burkett co-founded Spry Digital in 2010 to help businesses with all things digital. Along the way, she injected a significant amount of her own capital into the business because, she said, “I believed in the company, our team members, their families and our ability to grow.”
That belief has paid off. The company has grown since its founding from four partners to 30 employees and is approaching $4 million in annual revenue.
“Since Spry Digital’s founding, we have worked to create talent pipelines that assist with finding the right people to join our company,” Burkett said. “We balance hiring team members with experience, along with growing individuals, through our internship program. Our program teaches our business processes, how to work directly with customers, problem-solving skills and the basics for the next step in their career.”
Burkett started her career at Edward Jones in the information systems area while she was going to college at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, attending school full time and working part time. Over 20 years at Edward Jones, she worked her way up to partner in 1999.
In 2006, she left Edward Jones to become an entrepreneur. Burkett and her husband started a business building race cars and engine performance management of sports cars. She also delved into consulting and digital marketing, helping clients with their websites.
Burkett’s flexibility and ability to pivot and turn a problem into a solution stand out, her team said. Shortly before Burkett and her husband closed their sports car business, they purchased a 27,000-square-foot commercial building. She remembers thinking, “what are we going to do with this old building?”
Instead of an albatross, Burkett turned the vacant building into an opportunity. She saw a chance to make a difference in the community by reviving the historic structure. She leveraged tax credits to improve the more than 100-year-old building and installed solar panels to keep the electric bills down and help the environment. Eventually, the space became home to Spry Digital, until Burkett and her husband recently sold the building.
Burkett is on the St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce board, St. Louis Forum board, UM–St. Louis College of Business Leadership Council, their IST Advisory board and the Arts and Education Council board. She also serves as the City Champion for St. Louis Together Digital chapter, a Divisional Administrator of Registration for the Sports Car Club of America, and the St. Louis Panhellenic Alumnae Association Alternate Delegate, and she is an active Delta Zeta alumnae.
“A leader needs to be able to simplify communication and ideas so everyone can understand,” Burkett said. “They must be able to elevate and delegate so that they can focus on the bigger picture. Leaders must be able to predict the future and adjust accordingly. It is critical to be able to systemize to allow and facilitate growth. Finally, a leader must be able to create an organizational structure that is effective and gives us the ability to grow.”
Sheila always has her nails done. It is how she practices self care and keeps herself "on track." She also has an appreciation for purses and shoes.