The Path You Planned – Brittany Viola ‘14

The Path You Planned – Brittany Viola ‘14

Interviewed by Mateo Vazquez ‘21

MV: One of the questions I’d like to begin with is: what were you involved with at Trinity?

BV: I was involved with a number of activities. I played intramurals my first year and was a member of AASA as I’m half Filipina. I began writing for the Trinity Tripod my sophomore year, which I continued through my senior year and also worked at the front desk of Ferris. I was elected to student government my junior year as a student senator and a member of the Academic Affairs Committee. For the spring semester of junior year, I studied abroad at the Trinity Rome Campus. In my senior year, I was elected as Class President. I also served as a Writing Associate at the Writing Center, was a T.A for Writing 101 and a tutor for the freshmen on the football team.

MV: What did you end up doing after Trinity?

BV: I wanted to go to law school, but I wasn’t completely sure. So, I decided to work first before applying and making my decision. I ended up starting my career in technology at Microsoft in the former Nokia division. But then after restructuring, that group was let go and had a great opportunity to join a smaller software company called Black Duck Software, where Lou Shipley, a Trinity alum was the CEO. Lou is really great about staying in tune with the Trinity network as a fellow Trinity classmate was there when I joined and I know many more came on board since. I really enjoyed my time at Black Duck learning outside my comfort zone and it was definitely a difficult decision to make, but an amazing opportunity presented itself at New Balance. I really wanted to work for a local company and one that was increasingly involved in sports and related to my passions in health and fitness.  I worked at New Balance for a little over two years and again decided to pivot. I had realized through my professional experiences that law school didn’t seem like the right fit for me anymore and I wanted to continue down the business path but knew that if I wanted to make the biggest impact in an organization and grow to be a business leader, I needed to address key gaps in my skill set and have a more well-rounded business acumen.  I applied to business school and ended up choosing Boston College for my MBA, which is where I’m at now. I’m in my second year and am graduating in May.

It’s been an awesome experience because I think that I’ve further honed my skills I developed at Trinity as a Political Science major and a Writing, Rhetoric and Media Arts minor such as critical thinking and communication skills through my coursework in finance, accounting, operations and strategy. I’m currently working part time for a Harvard Innovation Lab venture and also pursuing post MBA full time opportunities in marketing strategy, corporate strategy and management consulting. Again, looking back at my Political Science degree, I believe that it provided me with a great foundation to excel in the workplace. I think it really developed my critical thinking and problem-solving abilities and also my communication skills, both verbal and written. I know there’s been much attention on hard skills lately such as in big data, computer science, analytics but I’m of the opinion that the softer skills are of critical importance in today’s business landscape as we all need to be able to communicate effectively across business units.  And if you can combine both the softer skills and emotional intelligence and the hard skills such as the ones I mentioned earlier, then you will be especially impactful to an organization.

MV: Was there any particular classes or professor at Trinity that kind of stood out to you in terms of your political science group?

BV: Yes absolutely  I never really swayed in my interest in majoring political science. I first became interested in it in high school because I took a political science class my senior year and then my first political science class at Trinity was American National Government, with Diana Evans.  She really was, and I’m sure still is, an amazing professor. She  fostered a learning environment and challenged you to think beyond  your initial perspective and question the way you see something or what conclusions you’ve drawn. She had really high standards and as a freshman, I was able to develop better studying habits and learn how to seek out different kinds of sources of information and come to conclusions better. She ended up being my advisor and I went on to take a few other courses with Professor Evans.  Overall, Professor Evans very much solidified my interest in political science.

MV: Yes I think she is still here. Have you been able to connect with Trinity alumni in the Boston Area?

BV: Yes. I have attended a number of alumni events in Boston.

I went to a women’s leadership council meeting last fall. I went back to campus last winter for a Women Undergrad and Alumni networking event, which allowed for the undergrads to prepare for the post-Trinity networking events that they’ll have to get accustomed to once they enter the workforce. I’m currently helping plan our fifth year reunion in June as a member of the Reunion Committee. I’ve been able to connect with other Trinity alumni in Boston as there is a sizable network here, but my Trinity friends are all over . Most of them have seemed to migrate to New York, but in most major cities, the Trinity network remains great and vibrant.