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PROVO, Utah – Dec 19, 2019 – Heather Hammond Cruz discovered her interest in the social innovation field after serving humanitarian trips in Zambia, Greece, and India. After seeing the direct positive impact her work had on people, she asked herself, “If working in social impact is what I love and what I’m passionate about, why am I not doing this for my career?” Cruz was working in project and event management at the time but decided to shake things up.
Before her humanitarian trips, Cruz graduated from the University of Utah in 2006 in music. After graduation she worked as a project event manager in the Bay Area with Cisco Systems, planning events and conferences around the world. During time off from her job, Cruz was able to take part in humanitarian work that would change the entire direction of her career.
Once Cruz decided she wanted to work in the social innovation field, she realized she needed to go to BYU Marriott to get the education needed to do so successfully.
While at BYU Marriott, Cruz actively participated in the Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance until graduating with her MBA in 2014. During her time in the program, she co-founded the student club SIMBA, the Social Impact and Masters of BYU Association, which has now merged with the Ballard Center’s Changemaker Club. She was also the director of the Ballard Center social entrepreneurship case competition and wrote a research paper on MicroBenefits, a Chinese startup focused on improving employee engagement in the workplace, for the competition.
Now living in Sandy and working as the director of corporate social responsibility at Nu Skin, Cruz credits the Ballard Center for her success in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) field. “BYU Marriott has lots of connections in the CSR space that I could tap into as I started looking for a job,” says Cruz. “The Ballard Center has been the gift that keeps on giving.”
At Nu Skin, Cruz focuses on how the company can lead new sustainability initiatives. Along with sponsoring initiatives to minimize packaging and make it recyclable, Nu Skin’s CSR team runs programs such as the Force for Good Foundation and Nourish the Children, which helps improve the lives of children around the world by providing grants to charity partners across the globe.
One of Cruz’s goals for Nu Skin and the entire CSR field is to eventually change how success is measured. Cruz feels the current focus on numbers measuring how many kits were donated and how many children’s surgeries were provided, for example, detracts from what Nu Skin’s CSR team is actually trying to impact: people’s lives. “Nu Skin’s CSR team wants to bring our results down to the molecular scale. What’s the impact for people or for the community?” says Cruz. “We’re trying to be better storytellers of impact and help others see the end result rather than just numbers.”
While Cruz’s interest in humanitarian work and social responsibility led her to pursue CSR, she now has an additional motivation to create a better world: her newborn daughter. “I want to set an example for my daughter in trying to make the world a better place through my career,” says Cruz. “That motivation fuels my passion for my job and makes my day-to-day work more meaningful.”
Cruz hopes the growing interest in CSR will push more companies into the social impact space. Those that don’t may be left behind by the new wave of socially aware consumers. “Millennials are incredibly sensitive to buying products that have some sort of social good to them and are conscious about their impact on the planet,” says Cruz. “With past generations, those interests haven’t been as big a focus, but now it sets companies apart.”
As more companies like Nu Skin expand their CSR initiatives, the need for people like Cruz—people invested in a cause—will increase. For Cruz, whose entire career shifted after her hands-on humanitarian work, a job is more than just a paycheck. “I’m the type of person who needs purpose to my work,” says Cruz. “If I’m going to give my all to my job, I want to be able to put my head down at night and know that my work is something I believe in, something I am passionate about, and something that makes the world better. That helps me keep going and get up day after day.”