Business & Economy

UWF alumnus capitalizes on unique career opportunity during COVID-19 pandemic

Cody Verhulst

Cody Verhulst ’19 knows the value in taking advantage of every opportunity he’s given, even when it’s presented in the middle of a global pandemic.

In college, it was accepting a graduate assistant position with the University of West Florida Department of Recreation, overseeing facility operations and special events on campus, which provided the financial means to earn a Master of Business Administration. In his last semester, he and a team of other graduate students completed a $270 million feasibility study for Hard Rock Hotel in collaboration with Pensacola-based South Palafox group, which earned National Project of the Year at the Small Business Institute’s annual academic conference in February 2020. 

Now an associate broker for BMS Group, a global reinsurance broking company, Verhulst is seeing the fruits of his labors in his post-graduate career—thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic. This month, the chief analytics officer of his company saw a LinkedIn post highlighting his UWF team’s success in the Small Business Institute research competition and decided he would be a good fit to create a COVID-19 impact analysis report for prospective clients, current clients and other reinsurance industry partners. 

“If it was not for the pandemic, I would not have had the opportunity to share my research and analysis expertise, granting me the respect and exposure that came with the successful implementation of the COVID-19 impact analysis weekly updates,” Verhulst said.

Despite only being seven months into his associate broker position, Verhulst accepted the challenge of creating the report, which analyzes the impact of COVID-19 from the ground up starting with the primary insurance industry, the US economy (GDP, imports and exports, unemployment, etc), and global reinsurers’ risk tolerance. The report is used by industry executives to develop innovative strategies for their businesses and to assist in the navigation of the uncertainty that COVID-19 has presented to the industry.

He implemented the project on his own for three weeks before he was assigned a new teammate to help bolster the work. Now, he said he’s responsible for orchestrating the weekly update process, composing the weekly update summary, and pursuing innovative corporate thought leadership strategies.

“Because of this project, I’ve been included on sales calls with prospective clients and long-term clients as the resident COVID-19 expert, joined meetings with multiple executives, and most importantly, I’ve been able to build a solid foundation in which I can grow upon within the BMS Group for many years to come.”

Verhulst credits his experience at UWF to preparing him to jump at this opportunity with no reservations.

“Throughout the two-year program, I had so many great professors, mentors and faculty members who challenged me to push harder than I ever thought possible,” he said. “It’s because of the fantastic UWF community and the amazing educational experience from the College of Business, that I was able to confidently accept the new opportunity to produce the COVID-19 impact analysis on behalf of our company with little worry.”