Wright State University has a friend in Andrea Kunk. In fact, it’s hard to imagine there are many alumni who have invested more energy in the university over the years.
Kunk has two business degrees from Wright State, has spoken to classes at the Raj Soin College of Business, helps students understand local government-related career opportunities, and recently finished a two-year term as chair of the Wright State University Foundation Board of Trustees, which she has served on since 2010.
And it’s not like Kunk has nothing else to do. She is president of Peerless Technologies, a Fairborn-based, high-tech, military-focused research and consulting company with more than 500 employees nationwide.
“If we can match our graduates with jobs, everyone wins,” Kunk said. “The graduates can build fulfilling careers and stay local, employers are able to hire the talent that they critically need to grow, and these success stories bolster continued economic growth in the region.”
Kunk grew up in Huber Heights. Her father, Michael Bridges, founded Peerless Technologies in 2000 and ran the company until he semiretired earlier this year. Kunk’s mother is a licensed professional counselor and provides pro bono counseling services through the family’s church.
“My family is very entrepreneurial,” Kunk said. “My dad founded Peerless, and my grandfather ran a local transportation and storage business throughout my childhood. I was always drawn to pursuing business as a career path. I graduated high school at the height of the dot-com era, so I knew wanted to integrate technology into my career as well.”
Kunk’s family bleeds Raider Green and Gold. Her father, mother, brother and husband are all graduates of Wright State. Michael Bridges served on the Wright State Board of Trustees both as a member and chair.
After graduating from Dayton Christian High School in 1999, Kunk enrolled at Wright State. It was a no-brainer for her.
“I grew up in a Wright State family,” she said. “My parents met in the Wright State library and both graduated with undergraduate degrees from the university. Attending Wright State as an undergrad was a local, logical option. And because I had such a great experience as an undergrad, Wright State was my first choice for my MBA.”
Kunk said the highlight of her time at Wright State was the academic experience.
“One of Wright State’s greatest strengths is its commitment to partnering with the students to help forge a path to success,” she said. “While many universities look for ways to wash out students, Wright State looks for ways to help them succeed.”
Kunk worked through college and said she found her class schedules and professors to be accommodating and flexible. She said she enjoyed the opportunity to integrate her work experience into her studies and to work with local businesses for special projects.
“During my time at Wright State, I learned to work in a business environment,” she said. “I collaborated with classmates and community partners. I learned to develop a vision for a project and map out objectives and a schedule. I learned valuable communications and prioritization skills.”
Kunk earned a bachelor’s degree in management information systems in 2004 and a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in finance in 2007.
While pursuing her undergraduate degree, Kunk worked part-time with her father to help him set up the business side of Peerless. After graduating, she did contract work for Peerless at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
“I quickly realized that I enjoyed business more than technology and pursued my MBA to strengthen my business skills,” she said. “I continued working at Peerless and wore a lot of different hats on the business side until ultimately taking over as CFO.”
Kunk served as the company’s chief financial officer for 15 years before taking over as president of Peerless in March. She works with the leadership team to set the company’s strategic vision, including business and financial objectives, and map out the tactical steps necessary to achieve that vision.
“As a professional services company, people are the core of our business,” she said. “I continually work with our team to ensure we are cultivating an environment where our employees can perform satisfying work and focus on meeting their customer’s missions.”
The company’s headquarters, which sits just outside the fence line of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, hums with scientists and engineers working on computer, human performance and intelligence technologies for the military and other federal clients.
Peerless employees do everything from supporting worldwide efforts to make the Air Force more energy-resilient to helping NASA push the boundaries of aerodynamic research. They also help the Navy field new electro-optic weapons and provide operational support for aircrews and front-line aircraft.
Kunk said it is a challenge to make sure that the company is constantly making the right business decisions and investments to position it for growth in both the near and long term.
“It’s gratifying when those decisions turn into new opportunities that grow the business and allow us to offer fulfilling careers to employees doing meaningful and exciting work,” she said.
Kunk has served on the Wright State University Foundation Board of Trustees since 2010 and just finished a two-year term as chair.
“The foundation is focused on being a strategic partner to the university and funding initiatives to support student success,” she said. “It has been very rewarding to witness firsthand the amazing successes that Wright State students are able to accomplish.”
Bill Bigham, interim vice president for advancement and director of planned giving at Wright State, said Kunk has played an important role in moving the board forward.
“Her thoughtfulness, intelligence and positive attitude enable her to excel as a leader that can galvanize and motivate others to follow,” he said.