Meet Rich Cruz
As an advisor and consultant to C-suite executives, I help organizations improve performance, develop self-efficacy among workers, foster organizational commitment through employee engagement, and lead change. I also provide highly effective training, education, and coaching to work groups to increase competencies for talent development. I have more than 18 years of experience as a management consultant and 25 years of managing people. I have designed and implemented customized business solutions for dozens of clients in various industries.
My passion lies in solving problems creatively, planning and executing HRM and marketing strategies, and optimizing communication channels. I also serve organizations as a multi-talented innovative change agent who leverages technology to improve systems and processes. I have designed and/or developed hundreds of websites, increasing SEO, user experience, and conversions. I have conducted job analysis, training, and development to enhance performance outcomes for my teams and clients. I aim to leverage my knowledge, skills, and abilities in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, organizational development, change management, data analysis, marketing communications (MarCom), social networking, CRM, business automation, creative direction, and project management.
Since the 4th grade, I have had a strong interest in art and solving creative problems. I created my first logo for a mimeograph envelope at my grammar school. This sparked a keen interest in working with clients on projects.
In high school, I joined the band program, and by the end of my freshman year, I began taking leadership roles. I loved learning, teaching, training, and performing with others. As a percussionist, I really loved learning how to play many different types of instruments with roots from around the world.
In college at the University of Chicago, I took the unconventional path of studying Visual Art on a full scholarship. I worked my way through college as a graphic artist, an industrial cleaner, a freelance muralist, and teaching percussion at my former high school.
In 1997, during my senior year at UChicago, I started my first business management position — going from a CSR (customer service representative) to an assistant manager of a Blockbuster Video. Eager to get to work making money and creating commercial art to help businesses solve their problems, I graduated UChicago one quarter early by taking a heavy course load.
After going back to Columbia College for some courses in graphic design, I changed jobs to work for Sam Ash Music. I found myself being instrumental in opening three locations and going quickly from sales associate to department head to operations manager. When the company installed a new ERP system, I became the regional trainer, developing and delivering instruction to teams on warehouse management, cashiering, reporting, CRM, and sales management.
Those formative experiences showed me the power of creativity, the importance of critical thinking in solving business problems, the types of issues that can occur within organizations, teams, and workgroups, and how goal-setting, training and development, plus effective change management provide self-efficacy and motivation to employees.
I started my marketing career in 2001, working for a leading publisher of Church music and music education resources. To learn how to be more effective, earned an MBA in 2005 while serving as the associate marketing director for this firm. It was then that I developed an appetite for entrepreneurship. Therefore, in 2006, I started an award-winning sign company, which I owned and operated until 2009.
At that time, after the Great Recession of 2008, I pivoted to management consulting, mainly in digital marketing. I began developing websites because of my experience building my own highly effective website for my sign company. I poured myself into learning everything I could about digital marketing and integrated marketing. I became certified in several platforms, and became a Professional Certified Marketer (PCM) from the AMA.
Throughout my career at MarCom, my favorite part of work always included understanding how people behave in the workplace. I have employed change management, organizational development, and leadership training to help organizations through digital transformations, such as implementing new CRM systems, marketing automation systems, and work processes. I enjoy seeing how people’s attitudes and behaviors evolve as organizational changes positive impact corporate culture.
In 2019 and 2020, I underwent career counseling and aptitude testing because I felt it had a bit of a career crisis — digital marketing alone didn’t quite fulfill me. I rediscovered that I gravitate toward careers that involve people, artistry, and an enterprising spirit. This meant my destiny included management consulting. In 2021, I became a Certified Management Consultant (CMC), and I serve as the CMC Committee Chair to promote and preserve this globally recognized credential.
In 2020, I discovered industrial-organizational psychology (I-O Psychology), and I found that this scientific discipline combined the traits I required in my career. I enrolled at Purdue University, and, in June 2023, I earned an MS in I-O Psychology. I also earned a SHRM-CP and a certification in OD and Change Leadership from The Drucker School at Claremont Graduate University.
Some of the industries I’ve served include: healthcare, SaaS, manufacturing, technology, retail, construction, commercial real estate, professional services, industrial, legal, financial, non-profit, health and chiropractic, nutrition, publishing, the arts, and education.
I received an MS in I-O Psychology from Purdue University, an MBA from Capella University, and a BA from the College of Visual Art of the University of Chicago. In addition to ongoing training in marketing, I also have the following certifications:
- MS in I-O Psychology from Purdue University
- Certification in OD and Change Leadership from The Drucker School at Claremont Graduate University
- Certified Management Consultant (CMC) from IMC USA
- Professional Certified Marketer (PCM) from AMA
- Certified Digital Marketing Professional (CDMP) from DMI
- Google Analytics Certified
- Google Ads Certified
- LinkedIn Ads Certified
Furthermore, I have completed training in Project Management and Lean Six Sigma Green Belt.
Outside of Work
I love playing the harmonica, and I am a percussionist and certified drum circle facilitator. I have been married to my wife of sixteen years, Lisa, who is a music teacher and performer. We have three children and a giant day gecko.
As a Wood Badger, I also serve as an Assistant Scoutmaster and Communications Chair in Scouts BSA Troop 699 in Palos Park, IL. I’ve also served as Assistant Cubmaster, Den Leader, Webmaster, and Committee Member of Cub Scout Packs 358 and 3729 and a Committee Member of Boy Scout Troops 358 and 729. Formerly, I served for more than three years as the Communications Chair for Arrowhead District for Scouts BSA Pathway to Adventure Council. Furthermore, I have served on the marketing committee for several non-profit organizations including chambers of commerce and arts and professional organizations.
I’m also a member of:
- Knight of Columbus Council 14057
- St. Alexander Church Palos Heights — Eucharistic Minister and Lector
- IMC USA – Institute of Management Consultants
- AMA – American Marketing Association
- SIOP – Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology
- SHRM – Society for Human Resources Management
- PMI – Project Management Institute
- SPAH – Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica
- SCLA – Society for Collegiate Leadership and Achievement at Purdue
- Psi Chi Honor Society at Purdue
- Alpha Alpha Alpha (Tri-Alpha) at Purdue