Meet Ryan Cruz, a Senior Consultant at Gartner whose background has given him the skills to propel his career forward. Ryan is a former criminal and employment lawyer as well as a U.S. Army veteran. Learn about Ryan’s unique career journey below.
I have a strong military history in my family. We have at least one member of our family who has served in the armed forces dating all the way back to the Civil War. Right out of high school, I knew I wasn’t ready for college, so I decided to enlist. It was a tough decision between the Marine Corps or the Army. I knew that I wanted to be a front-line person and after a lot of thought, I decided to join the Army. I initially enlisted in the Air Defense Artillery branch as an Avenger Crew Member. Right before graduating from boot camp, the 9/11 attacks occurred, and things became really serious. I ended up getting sent to the JSA (Joint Security Area) in Panmunjom, S. Korea. I was put into an infantry unit, 1st Battalion 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, more famously known from HBO’s “Band of Brothers.” During my time in the service I learned a lot about myself, I matured immensely and often pushed myself to the limit.
Around 2004, I started losing close friends in Iraq and Afghanistan. I really wanted to be stationed in Italy but I saw this as an omen and decided to leave the service and pursue an education. I enrolled at San Diego State University. I wanted to be near the beach so I could surf, and I wanted to experience life in Southern California. I pledged Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) and played baseball for two years. My experience in the military directly translated to my college work. I learned to not procrastinate, to be goal-oriented, to work as a team and to carry my own weight. I was conditioned to early mornings and late nights and I knew no matter how tough times may have seemed, someone out there always had it worse than I did. The hard work and discipline that was instilled in me during my time in the service allowed me to graduate with my bachelors in political science. My love for traveling allowed me to participate in the study abroad program at the University of Stockholm. During my senior year, which was short lived, I realized that I wanted to go above and beyond and go to graduate school and eventually law school.
Coming from a relatively poor family, I understood the value of education and hard work. No matter what our situation was, my parents always taught me to be principled and humble. I went on to get a master’s in public policy with an emphasis on planning and development. In 2009, I accepted a job as a federal investigator with the U.S. Government. I wanted to continue serving my country and I wanted to help take criminals off of the street. I worked on civil and criminal cases relating to abuses in the workplace. It was a vast range of things like FMLA discrimination to human trafficking cases. During my time as a federal investigator, I enrolled in law school. My dream as a child was to become a judge. During law school I specialized in criminal/employment law. My dream was to create a court that specialized in diversion programs for youth and nonviolent criminals entering the criminal justice system.
Upon completing law school, I was appointed to the position of Assistant Director of the U.S. Department of Labor. I left California and worked in South Carolina. I wanted to work in a state where poverty and human trafficking was high and needed to be addressed. During my time, I helped litigate cases with our Solicitor’s office in Atlanta and put several criminals in prison for a variety of crimes. I mostly helped settle civil cases while managing over 20 federal investigators. In late 2015, I went on a backpacking trip to India and realized that it was time for a change. I had been working in my position for 5+ years and I wanted to do something more challenging. I had advanced pretty quickly in my agency, which I would essentially max out my promotional capabilities with just 2 more promotions.
During my time with the federal government, I lost interest in being a judge even though I was 2 years away from qualifying to become an Administrative Law Judge. During a legal conference in California, I had connected with a friend who worked for Gartner. She asked me about what I did and suggested that I apply for the consultant position. I had heard of Gartner when I worked on a few 18F projects in Washington D.C. I liked what Gartner did. I loved the reputation that Gartner had, and I felt that I would be challenged if I were to work for Gartner. In 2017, I ended up accepting the role as senior consultant in our public sector practice. Currently, I work on public safety and justice projects. I love learning so I try not to limit my exposure to various projects. Every day, I learn something new, which is something I wanted when I decided to join Gartner.
My skills from the military also translate to Gartner primarily around working with teams, meeting deadlines, managing projects or staff, having a goal-oriented mentality and respecting others. Gartner employs a diverse group of people from a variety of backgrounds. I am impressed how intelligent everyone is. From my first day of onboarding, I truly felt at home working here.
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