After spending two years commuting three hours a day from Orange County to the Inland Empire for work and school, Marco Flores ’15, ’17 was offered an incredible opportunity: a position as a geographic information systems (GIS) specialist at Apex Solutions.
Originally from Moreno Valley, California, Flores had been working as a scheduling supervisor at San Manuel Indian Casino. Although the position offered him a great deal of job security, Flores didn’t feel completely fulfilled. He says, “I was always thinking: What do I love to do? What career am I passionate about? I wanted to change industries and start from scratch.”
After being introduced to GIS technology during undergraduate studies at the University of Redlands, Flores decided to enroll in U of R’s MBA program, selecting an emphasis in GIS. “When Professor James Pick first taught me about GIS, I didn’t want anything to do with it because I didn’t really understand it,” says Flores. “But Professor Pick was patient and methodical enough to assign projects that made me want to learn more about GIS technology.”
The personalized nature of the graduate program also attracted Flores. “Previously, I had gone to a state school. My classes were huge, and I had a hard time registering for the classes I needed,” he says. “At the U of R, there were five or six students in the GIS concentration, and the small classes fostered a strong sense of community.”
Flores says that a highlight of the program was the capstone course, where students separated into groups that functioned as individual companies. Each group compiled weekly production reports to see how they were competing against their classmates. The structure of the class provided valuable experience for students, who learned some of the challenges of being in charge of a business in a competitive environment.
Six months after Flores graduated with his MBA, a recruiter from Apex Systems reached out to him, asking if he was interested in a contractor role with Apex Solutions. After a few rounds of interviews, Flores moved to Northern California. Currently, Flores works as a vendor to optimize and perfect maps—something he says he wouldn’t be able to do without his degree from the U of R.
“GIS fits into so many aspects of business,” he says. “It applies to marketing and provides companies with data so they can make better, more informed business decisions that minimize risk and cost. That’s the power of a map.”
In addition to a new career, Flores notes that his education granted him a greater sense of self-confidence.
“Completing my MBA made me believe in myself,” he says. “Now I know I can prove myself to employers. My education resonates in my actions and conversations with colleagues.”