Jean Sera '91

International Affairs and Humanities Majors | Senior Vice President, Avis Budget Group
jean sera

Following graduation from UNH I spent two years in Italy working in a law office in Rome--a wonderful experience though I realized how much more I could do with a law degree. Law school at Boston University was a rewarding and challenging experience. With the solid foundation provided by UNH and especially the International Affairs (IA) dual major, I graduated magna cum laude and was editor of the Boston University International Law Journal. 

After law school, I joined Shearman & Sterling in New York City, a global law firm located in financial centers throughout the world. At Shearman, I worked on financing and corporate transactions for companies doing business in many different countries. Though interesting and exciting, financing work in New York City requires long hours. Because for me the hours became incompatible with raising a family, I joined the Legal Department at Cendant Corporation after a little over five years at Shearman. At Cendant, a real estate and travel company which in 2005 generated $18 billion in revenue, I worked on financings as well as public reporting. In both companies I enjoyed frequent interaction with people from other countries. I can’t remember ever being intimidated by a legal issue or person from another country. I believe that the IA major contributed to my confidence to address issues in foreign jurisdictions and my desire to interact with people from all over the world.

In summer 2006, when Cendant separated into four companies, I transitioned into my current role with Avis Budget Group, the company that owns the vehicle rental businesses of Cendant, and which comprises the Avis and Budget car and truck rental businesses in more than 70 countries. I am responsible for the corporate secretarial function in the Legal Department. This function includes principally corporate governance and public reporting, an interesting area which often generates front-page news. I am also involved in much of the finance and corporate legal work.

The rigor of the IA dual major contributed to my success, not only in law school but also later in my career. A career in law demands constant study of new rules and regulations as well as the ability to review and understand quickly long and complex documents. Finance requires confidence in one’s ability to understand new and diverse financial products and identify whether they can work within an existing corporate structure.

I think the best advice for an aspiring law student is to develop solid accounting and math skills. Women face the additional challenge of grappling with being a mother and having a career – a dilemma I continue to find challenging. So many women say "no one ever told me how hard it would be."

I would very much like to thank Professor McCann for starting the IA major and UNH for supporting it. In addition to the knowledge I gained from the major, I also had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people, some with whom I am still in touch.