Breadcrumbs

Brittany Oliver

Key Info

Qualification(s):
  • Bachelor of Business
Scholarship(s):
  • Vice Chancellors Award for Academic Excellence
  • YWCA Women’s Tertiary Award
  • Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Asia
  • South Western University of Finance and Economics Exchange Programme Scholarship

Why did you choose to study at the University of Waikato?

It was a combination of things for me. The University has an amazing Business School and Management program that really interested me. The opportunity to experience practical internships, competitions and overseas experiences. The curriculum involved a large amount of teamwork and gave a good overview to a range of business skills. For me, learning to work efficiently in teams and understanding various aspects of business was important when considering where I would move in terms of my future career. When you are about to leave high school, it’s hard to know exactly what you want to do! My first 2 years at university really helped me figure this out.

What do you do in your current role?

I am currently living in Shenzhen China, working for ZURU as the Business Unit Manager for a line of dolls called Sparkle Girlz. I had the incredible opportunity and privilege to be thrown into managing ZURU's first multi-million-dollar acquisition in my first few months out of university. It has been an absolute whirlwind, but I have loved all the learnings and experiences. I now get to manage the global business development of the range across sales, marketing and operations. It has been epic! I'm still learning every single day.

What does a typical day look like for you?

A normal workday in Shenzhen sees me biking or catching a scooter to work before grabbing some local breakfast. I spend the morning clearing through emails from our sales team who work in different time zones. I am often reviewing their numbers and how our key retail partners such as Walmart USA are tracking on our brand. It’s a mix of supporting them to secure sales and addressing any potential issues. We are lucky to have lunch served to us in the office. In China, the staff all nap after lunch until 1pm, which is something I haven't yet been able to master. After lunch I generally then spend time with our back-end team on new product development. Depending on the time of year, I also spend a lot of time working with our team on preparing for the many international toy fairs we show at in places like Germany, Hong Kong and the USA. At 6pm we all eat dinner together again and afterwards I clear emails before heading to the gym or back home. I spend a lot of time in Hong Kong and in different places around the world so that I’m always aware of how we can continue to grow and drive sales for the business.

Where did you go for your study abroad experience and what did you do?

I studied in Taipei, Taiwan for a semester in my third year of university. It was absolutely one of the best decisions of my life and played a huge role in my personal development as well as my overall university experience.

What did you gain from your study abroad experience and how did your time at the University of Waikato help you prepare for where you are now?

So much it’s hard to summarise! After a two-week course in Chengdu China, I realised just how comfortable I had become in New Zealand and because of this, I was missing out on so much that the world had to offer! I knew that going on an exchange would be a huge step out of my comfort zone, but I also knew it would provide me with invaluable skills, life experiences and memories.  I learnt so much about myself and where I sat in the world. I grew in empathy and learnt to really view the world through others’ eyes. My problem-solving skills improved immensely, I made lifelong friends from all around the world and felt like I was really living my life to the fullest. I learnt to analyse risks, not be afraid to step out of my comfort zone, listen to others’ opinions, and challenge my underlying perceptions of life and people.

How do you think you can make a difference through the work you are doing now?

Working in toys and accepting a job in an industry that is widely criticised for its environmental impact was a hard decision for me. In the beginning I really had no desire to be a part of it. Something I learnt from my exchange was thinking outside of the box, challenging perceptions and being open minded. I said to myself, ‘Brittany, if you spend your whole life criticising from the outside, how will you ever enact real change on the inside?’ So, throwing myself into this industry has given me so many insights and understandings that I know will enable me to make meaningful change. For example, traditionally, dolls are sold in window box packaging. Sparkle Girlz have an open cardboard cone packaging design, with no PVC plastic packaging. Straight away this reduces footprints in a way that can be maintained long term.

What are your plans for your future?

Long term I would love to be supporting businesses in their development and growth wherever possible. My big long-term goal is to eventually set up self-sufficient businesses and investments that can sustainably fund projects and schools in the Pacific Islands.  This is something that has always been on my mind and always will be. For now, I'm soaking up every learning that I can.

What would you say to students who are thinking about studying at Waikato?

One hundred percent, do it. It’s such an incredible university that has a 360-degree support network. Whether it’s a strong academic program, supportive lecturers and tutors, international opportunities, sports or career advice, it really does offer you everything.

What have been your proudest moments?

Some of my highlights were the self-growth on my exchange in Taiwan, tutoring some of incredibly talented management students, getting through to the STMG391 finals and of course making life-long friends along the way.


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