As a premium payments specialist with insurance brokerage firm HUB International, Jeremy Cruz ’18 (MBA) is charged with making sure the company’s clients are paid and prepared to help those facing the unexpected, no matter when or where it comes.
“The enormity of the insurance industry and the importance of the kind of work I do really hit me during my School of Business study abroad program when I visited Lloyds of London, a huge building that houses underwriters of multiple big name insurance companies,” says Cruz. “Insurance for a lot of multi-billion dollar construction projects is handled through that center. It’s incredible.”
A Los Angeles native and the first in his family to earn a graduate degree, Cruz was drawn to University of Redlands by the campus culture, especially the openness and accessibility of professors and staff. He was particularly interested in gaining a greater understanding of the global economy and international trade.
“I wanted to learn how business and culture worked in other countries,” he says, “so I jumped at the chance to travel to England and France.”
He admits to being both surprised and reassured by what he learned: “Businesses in Europe sometimes approach issues differently because of variations in laws and regulations—U.S. laws tend to be much more structured. But I also discovered businesses there face many of the same challenges we do.”
Energized by the two-week trip abroad (preceded by three Saturdays of preparation and followed by the completion of a research paper and travel journal), Cruz applied to take part in the School of Business global consultancy capstone course.
Students in consultancy capstones, domestic or global, are put in teams of three or four and assigned a client and project, from marketing to new product development and feasibility studies. According to School of Business Professor and International Programs Director Michael MacQueen, “It’s a great way to finish our business programs. In addition to providing valuable experience for our students, it can really make a difference for the companies they consult with, whose executives are so appreciative of the fresh perspective students bring to the table.”
Cruz and fellow teammates created a branding campaign for a cosmetics start-up in Reykjavík, Iceland. The project included three Saturday pre-engagement sessions; a week in Reykjavík to meet with company founders, assess their needs, and report preliminary findings; and the creation of a 136-page comprehensive report that offered recommendations on branding, marketing, and packaging.
Cruz’s advice to other students who may be considering a study abroad opportunity at Redlands? “Do it! You’ll learn a lot from the experience as well as from other students, and you may encounter something you’ve never thought about before. The two-week trip is very doable—the faculty are extremely supportive—and the capstone project is an interesting and rewarding experience.”
Fellow School of Business graduate Nicholas (Nick) Caputa ’17, who completed his B.A. at the University’s San Diego campus, is similarly enthusiastic. “My whole trip [to the U.K. and France] was eye-opening,” says Caputa, who had never before been abroad. “For one thing, I saw clearly the ability to network effectively is key to almost every industry—talking to others helps fuel the creativity that allows you to come up with ideas and then grow them.” Caputa is currently using some of these insights as founder of Envision Finance Corporation.
In response to such enthusiastic feedback, MacQueen is eager for others to engage in international experiences. “I want to make sure everyone knows about our international programs,” he says. “Many other business schools don’t offer them, and they give our students a remarkable opportunity to experience global business firsthand. I have come to realize the incredible impact these courses have on the lives and perspectives of our students. Traveling to another country to study business can influence a student’s view of the world in profound ways.”