Class of 2017 Alumna Olivia Meira is now working as Manager of Retail Intelligence at Grupo Big in Brazil, the third largest retailer in the country.

Like most Frankliners, Olivia has a cosmopolitan background. After graduating from Franklin in 2017 with a degree in International Relations, Olivia spent some time traveling while she applied for jobs in Europe and Brazil, where she initially started working as an enrollment advisor for Hult International Business School in São Paulo. “I worked a lot with high school students, and it was actually really fun because I had spent years living abroad. It was really easy to recruit people because I was just selling them what I had lived. At the end of the day, it was more a sharing of experiences than a job.”

Despite consistently being one of Hult’s top South American enrollment advisors, Olivia soon decided that it was time for something new and, looking for a fresh challenge, she applied to one of the Big Three consulting firms, which led her to be finally recruited for the market analytics department of Walmart Brazil.

Olivia was thrown into the deep end of an intense program where, as she described, “success meant being able to work above your pay grade.” Six months into the program, Walmart Brazil, now known as Grupo Big, was purchased by a private equity firm who had big plans to completely restructure the struggling company to better align with Brazilian consumers. “When the leadership changed and a fresh boss came in, I suddenly had the chance to be part of a project that was central to the new strategy.”

In her new position as Manager of Retail Intelligence, “I do feel overwhelmed sometimes because I have to deal with things I haven’t gone through, but I usually have the self-reflection to notice this and recognize, even if I’m frustrated, that it’s ok, I learned this time and now I will know how to do it next time. It’s very important to know that no one teaches you how to act, think, feel or what to expect in everyday situations. It’s a constant learning process, and sometimes I have to recognize that I’m wrong. Franklin really makes you think outside the box – that’s a vital skill in retail.“

Olivia also credits Franklin’s diverse mix of cultures for helping to develop a particular skill that’s critical in her current position — communication. “My current job involves solving problems and convincing people. At Franklin, you meet so many new people who think differently from you, and you can’t just say ‘Oh I’m right and they're wrong’. You have to genuinely understand their point-of-view, then you can begin to think about a compromise — you can think about how to convince them of your argument, or you can try to integrate their view into yours. These skills, empathy, comprehension of other world views and arguments, the ability to listen, discuss, integrate, argue — I learned at Franklin. It’s hard, but when I do my job well and get the right people on board, I can actually look at the results and say, ‘I was a part of making this happen.’ It makes me really proud!”

Thinking back over the first few months after graduation, Olivia noted that, “things were difficult at first but the Franklin experience made me feel comfortable with change, development, transformation and uncomfortable situations. I think that’s the most important lesson you can learn for the rest of your life. At Franklin, you learn how to be an adult, to deal with problems and to be flexible, proactive and independent, and I think that’s the greatest thing a university can teach you.”

Read the full story in the Alumni Series by Samuel Miller '17.