Alex Riley

United Airlines
Senior Strategy Analyst


University of Michigan, BSE Industrial and Operations Engineering, 2011

University of Michigan, BS Mathematical Economics, 2011


I entered U of M in the Fall of 2006 as a Computer Science major in LSA. My Sophomore year I transferred into the College of Engineering to pursue Chemical Engineering. After a few weeks I could tell I was going to be a terrible chemical engineer, so I switched to Industrial & Operations Engineering in 2008. In 2009 I enrolled back in LSA to pursue a Joint Degree in Mathematics and IOE. As you can imagine, my transcript was a mess: MATH 451 (arguably the most difficult class in Mathematics) satisfied my Calc 1 requirement; MATH 417 satisfied my Math 217; GREATBOOKS 191 satisfied my ENG 100. ENG 101 was satisfied by EECS183. In hindsight, the fact that I became an Entrepreneur makes total sense.

During my last semester at U of M (Winter 2011) I co-founded my first company – MeritHall Staffing – as a result of difficulties staffing construction projects in my PM role at a local contractor. In 2012 I co-founded my second company – Detroit Training Center. In 2015 I co-founded a facilities maintenance company which I sold in 2018. I am launching my fourth company – Timeline Technologies – in 2019.

In 2015, MeritHall was recognized as the 165th Fastest Growing Privately held companies in America (#1 in Michigan).
In 2016 MeritHall was recognized at the ICIC 100 with the annual Chevron Dorothy A. Terrell Community Impact Award which highlights companies that have a significant impact on their communities through quality job creation and civic engagement.
Alex was included in INC’s “30 Under 30” list in 2018
Awarded the Michigan “Young Entrepreneur of the Year” in 2015
Selected as a member of Crain’s “20 in their 20s” in 2013
Alex’s companies have been featured in INC, Entrepreneur, Fortune, Crain’s Detroit Business, and various other publications.

Reflection on Time Spent at U-M
As a founder, I’ve learned that you need 3 things to start a company: an identified opportunity, alignment of resources, and focused leadership. My professional journey has developed my skills in all three of those areas. U of M taught me to relentlessly pursue my passions in order to uncover opportunity, identify resources, and provide leadership.

Operations Research Track of IOE is amazing.

Favorite classes: IOE 310, IOE 510, and IOE 612

Advice to Students:
Your major doesn’t define your path. College is for making connections, learning how to learn, and learning how to stay curious.