No Better Seat in the House

No Better Seat in the House


Risk manager Jonathan Schreter (’00) receives UCLA Anderson’s 2023 Outstanding Alumni Service Award

FEBRUARY 23, 2023

  • Jonathan Schreter (’00), an executive vice president with Bolton & Company, is the 2023 recipient of UCLA Anderson’s Outstanding Alumni Service Award
  • Schreter’s career has entailed developing major ad campaigns, launching a brand consultancy and managing risk for businesses and K-12 schools
  • Among his many volunteer roles, Schreter has served as president of the UCLA Anderson alumni board and president of the L.A. chapter of Anderson’s alumni network

Some people are born entrepreneurs. Their first instinct is: see problem, solve problem, profit from that solution. That’s not Jonathan Schreter (’00) — and he knows it.

“I am entrepreneurial, but I don’t look at the world through a lens that says, ‘That’s a problem worth solving that I want to build a business around it,’” Schreter says. “It’s just not in my DNA. But you put me in a room with someone who does want to start that business, I will move heaven and earth to make it happen. That’s where I love to live.”

Schreter’s career began like a neo-Hollywood story. After graduating from UC San Diego, he landed a job in the mailroom of talent agent Creative Artists Agency. Shortly afterward, the one-time English major proved his mettle as a creative himself, joining the CAA team responsible for the Coca-Cola campaign and eventually managing a $25 miillon dollar budget. His team introduced the world to those famous polar bears.

Schreter stayed with CAA for six years, then founded Destiny Brands, a marketing and advertising consultancy, serving as president. Concurrent with his years at Destiny, Schreter enrolled at UCLA Anderson, earning his MBA in 2000. After graduation, he joined PhatNoise, a nascent tech company eventually acquired by Harman International, as director of marketing, a position he stayed in for two years. “The logic behind Destiny Brands was, ‘If you think your business is your reason for being on this Earth, that makes for an incredible story to tell, and I want to help you to do that,’” Schreter says. He hoped to bring that vision to PhatNoise, but the vagaries of both the tech industry and the economy saw him part ways with that company.

“I was kind of floundering, wondering, ‘What’s my next step?’ My dad always loved the insurance business, but I always thought the insurance business was for the guy that Bill Murray punches in the face in Groundhog Day — a guy who sells life insurance,” Schreter says. But at his father’s suggestion, Schreter approached an insurance brokerage about their marketing and advertising. He was hired; but six months in, he realized that for this firm, “marketing and advertising” meant not much more than referrals. Schreter made another realization as well.

“I was picking up that insurance really is about managing risk, and risk management conceptually. There is no better seat in the house, I’ve discovered, because it affects operations, it affects human resources, it affects strategy, it affects finance — all the things I learned about in the MBA program. If you manage your risk in your business, you are a better business,” Schreter says.

UCLA Anderson Senior Associate Dean Al Osborne, now retired, welcomed Schreter to a 2018 meeting of the alumni board

Now, the person who’d been showing others how to fulfill their destinies had found his own.

Today, Schreter’s career sits at the center of a Venn diagram formed by his passions, talents and MBA experience. He possesses a deep belief in the value of insurance and risk management, the storytelling skills to make the complexities of risk management understandable, an understanding of the management issues companies face and great relationships within his alumni network.

For seven years, Schreter served as an account executive with Hoffman Brown Co.; since 2011, he’s been an executive vice president with Bolton & Company, providing insurance and risk management for a variety of companies and organizations that include charter and independent schools, and middle market manufacturing and advanced technology businesses. He’s also been an active member of the Anderson alumni network and is the first to acknowledge that his original involvement had a few selfish motivations. “I recognized that risk management was not a common conversation among my peers. A lot of people go into business and become CEOs and CFOs, and I wanted to know these people and be supportive of them,” Schreter says.

With an interest in getting to know alumni in the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena area (call it a subset of the Los Angeles alumni chapter), Schreter sought out assistance through the school’s Office of Alumni Relations. “It was a perfect reason for me to become involved, to be a good volunteer and later on promote this idea of risk management,” he says. “It was a crossroads of altruism and self-interest.”

Schreter is emphatic on this last point.

“Altruism has to drive your involvement. I bleed blue and gold. I’m a born-and-raised L.A. kid and I got my chance to be a Bruin by coming to UCLA for business school,” Schreter says. “The experience was exactly what I needed. It gave me the vocabulary and an understanding of how business operated so that I could be productive in my career afterward. So, there was a desire to give back to that community. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit there was some self-interest.”

But, Schreter says, becoming a volunteer solely motivated by self-interest will backfire.

“If all I did was show up and say, ‘Hey, I’m Jonathan, I sell insurance,’ I would have been run out of town. That’s not what the experience is about. But if you can find that balance of offering what you think the alumni network would respond to, you’ll find success and it’ll keep you engaged for the long run,” Schreter says.

Schreter’s long run as an active alumnus includes a variety of crucial roles. After several years as a volunteer, he became president of the Los Angeles chapter of Anderson’s alumni network, the chapter with the largest membership. He went on to become president of the alumni board and the alumni liaison to the school’s Board of Advisors. He’s spoken at commencement and orientation. He’s served as his alumni class president, played in the network’s charity golf tournament and amassed a long list of volunteer activities associated with the Price Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, including mentoring and advising teams incubating companies within the Anderson Venture Accelerator.

The volunteer work proved both challenging and rewarding. The sheer size of the L.A. chapter challenges organizers planning an event that might draw attendees from the Valley to Long Beach to downtown and all points in between. “But I loved it,” Schreter says. “It filled my bucket because of what we accomplished.” The network noticed, and he was asked to become president of the national board.

Schreter is philosophical about his volunteerism.

“When you graduate, the development office reaches out and asks you to give back, to provide opportunities for future generations,” Schreter says. “When I considered my degree, I looked at the value of the tuition cost against the results I might get and, to me, was a transaction. I’ll pay you tuition, you give me value and at the end of two years we’re done. If you want more dollars from me, well, what have you done for me lately?”

Jonathan Schreter and fellow UCLA Anderson alumni board members in Los Angeles

Schreter believes it is the role of the alumni network to provide the ongoing value that inspires giving.

“It is the responsibility of the network to constantly bring value to alumni so that when the development office calls, you can point to a deal that got developed because you met someone at an event, or show how your professional development was enhanced because you audited a class or got together with Professor Eric Sussman. Then you realize, ‘I owe the school for that experience,’” Schreter says. “If we do that consistently, development numbers improve.”

The UCLA Anderson alumni network is not Schreter’s only passion. He serves as board chair of L.A.-based Inner-City Arts, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing arts education to students whose school curriculum doesn’t include art. Schreter believes that art education is paramount to student success and to the development of human beings. “It’s the one place where there is no correct answer. One plus one is always going to be two. But you can have 12 paintings of the same skyline and they are all going to be different,” he says. Schreter is also board president of his insurance industry association.

Although he is no longer leading the alumni board, Schreter remains a member of its culture committee and he hosts Dinners for Eight with current students and serves on panels. His peers and his school have noticed, and now bestow on Schreter the Outstanding Alumni Award for 2023.

“To be recognized for the work is mind blowing. It’s validating. It’s wonderful,” Schreter says, still a bit surprised Dean Tony Bernardo called him personally with the news. “But it’s not a culmination. I’m still on the board. We have a fantastic culture that should be celebrated and recognized, and we should create content for them. I’ve learned there is an amazing number of alumni that go into the nonprofit space, either founding them, working for them or serving on their boards. I would very much like to engage them and form an affinity group so they can network with one another. So I’ve got still plans. But the award recognizes a lot of effort that I was proud to bring to the network. It’s just awesome.”