People at conference table
This ’00 alumnus came to UNLV with a passion and left with a zig-zag plan.

Editor's Note

: This story is part of a series highlighting 50 intriguing alumni as part of the William F. Harrah College of Hospitality’s 50th anniversary celebration.

When Josh Wand arrived at UNLV, he was a man with a plan: to learn all he could about the restaurant industry so he could one day open his own establishment. Four years and several influential classes, internships, mentorships, and trips to foreign lands later, Wand altered his plan.

“What I thought I wanted to do was own restaurants. But after I got to UNLV, I realized, ‘Wait a minute. That’s not exactly what I want to do in hospitality,’” Wand recalls. “After [the Hotel College] exposed me to all these wine, beer, and spirits suppliers, I thought, ‘So I can be in hospitality and represent these amazing food and beverage brands, but I don’t need to actually own or operate the restaurant. I can work in a different role.’”

Today, that role is the founder and CEO of ForceBrands, an executive and board of director search company with industry-specific job boards, which Wand launched in 2007. Understanding that people are an organization’s greatest asset, Wand says he set out to build a company that took a more human approach to recruiting and staffing: “I wanted ForceBrands to focus on the unique qualities of the people involved and help individuals and companies find and reach their ‘hire purpose.’”

While working to lift up other companies, Wand has also boosted his own: ForceBrands has grown from a staff of one to more than 55 employees across New York City, Los Angeles, Sonoma, San Diego, Boulder, Austin, Minneapolis, and Johnson City, Tennessee. It’s a success story Wand insists his alma mater helped him write.

“UNLV taught me how to innovate, how to zig when everyone else is zagging, how to find solutions and, most importantly, how to treat people,” he says. “I can honestly say I would not be where I am at this stage of my life—which I’m very happy with—without UNLV. Not a lot of people can say that about their university.”

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