Trading in a brown delivery uniform for a three-piece suit, Richard Peretz, ’85 has had an illustrious 35-year career working for UPS.
Joining the company in 1981 while a student at UTSA, Peretz has risen through the ranks to become chief financial officer of the $58 billion company headquartered in Atlanta.
As CFO Peretz is responsible for accounting, finance, financial planning, taxes, audit and compliance activities. He also serves as the company’s senior liaison to the investor, finance and analyst communities.
“I’ve had great opportunities with UPS,” said Peretz, a native of San Antonio. “I’ve been in front of the European Union, opened up UPS operations in China and have been invited to the White House.”
His list of career highlights includes being part of the team that led the IPO to take UPS public in 1999; managing acquisitions and expanding international small package operations in Costa Rica, Romania, South Korea, Turkey and Vietnam; launching UPS’ operations in Mexico; and serving as the international CFO during which time he grew profits while opening operations in China and expanding in Japan, Poland and the United Kingdom.
“The hallmark of UPS is that everyone understands the business well,” said Peretz, who also holds an MBA from Emory University. “After graduating from college, I drove a truck for four months. Being closely tied to the inner workings of the company helps one understand the analytical side of the business.”
“You need to continue to learn and continue to self-analyze yourself. You learn from your mistakes. What got you promoted might not make you successful in your next position.”
Traveling the world with UPS, Peretz has worked in both the operational and corporate sides of the business.
“Even though I started out majoring in accounting, most of my career has been in finance,” he said. “My UTSA background and UPS experiences have taken me around the world and exposed me to multiple facets of the business and the diversity of cultures.”
Describing his transition to his new role as CFO Peretz said, “The pace is faster, but I’ve been preparing for this for 30 years. To be an effective leader you have to make sure you have the right facts to support your position and believe in the direction you are headed.”
Peretz often finds himself in the national financial and media spotlight since his role also includes communicating with Wall Street and the business media.
“Communication skills are vital,” said Peretz. “You need to be able to explain things so your audience understands. My first English class at UTSA helped me learn that. Now I use those skills when I’m being interviewed on CNBC. It’s like preparing for a final exam and not knowing what the questions will be.”
Reflecting on his career with UPS, Peretz remarked, “UPS has a strong corporate culture. It is the same now as when I started. Everyone goes by their first name. Employees are given opportunities to grow and most importantly, it is teamwork that drives our success.
“But, the pace of the business is faster now. And, I’ve seen how globalization and technology have influenced the foundation of UPS.”
A self-proclaimed numbers guy, Peretz always wanted to major in accounting. He worked part time and later full time at a UPS facility not far from campus, while he completed his undergraduate degree.
“When I was at UTSA there were four buildings, plus the Sombrilla. We didn’t even have a basketball team,” said Peretz. Supporting his alma mater from afar, Peretz made sure to attend a UTSA football game when they played in Atlanta in 2012.
Referencing renowned author and executive coach Marshall Goldsmith, Peretz stressed the importance of continual learning.
Grateful for the education that he received from UTSA, Peretz encourages other alumni and students to continue the educational process. “Life is a journey, and you must be prepared for the opportunities that are still before you.”