Bruna Palma

Bruna Palma

M.S. in Commerce 2012 (Marketing & Management), University of Virginia

B.A. in Economics 2011, Hunter College of the City University of New York

After: Whirlpool Latin America, Innovation Portfolio Leader (Sao Paulo, Brazil)

Now: Omnichannel Product Intelligence Manager, Grupo Boticário (Sao Paulo, Brazil)

Leveraging liberal arts with business

As an Economics undergrad, my understanding of business and the economy was very theoretical and only partly prepared me for the real world. The combination of my undergrad degree with the M.S. in Commerce Program broadened my previous theoretical understanding of business and allowed me to develop a set of hard skills that transcends the classroom application and directly apply them in a real-world business context.

Preparation for the job

I started my career at Whirlpool as an Innovation Project Leader, responsible for the planning and management of our Laundry and Dishwasher innovation portfolio, and I cannot describe how valuable Professor Nelsons' class was in dealing with the daily activities of managing a large cross-functional team, managing risk and stakeholder expectations, all the way to planning a project and its future product implementation.

From there, I moved on to a Strategy position for Laundry and Dishwasher, where Professor Heilman's basic marketing concepts and brand management teachings have helped me tremendously in designing and translating our Brazilian brands into a robust five-year plan and product portfolio for the category.

Then, as a Senior Pricing Intelligence Analyst, I am able to leverage on a daily basis all the hard analytical and statistical skills learned in Professor Netemeyer's Marketing class. Having earned a business degree has allowed me very easily adapt to different areas and seamlessly work with many cross-functional teams.

Now I'm a Product Intelligence Manager at Grupo Boticário. What amazes me is how many of the skills I have used on a daily basis have come from my McIntire classes, and how invaluable they have been in helping me succeed and move up in my career.

Taking advantage of Commerce Career Services

The help of the Career Services team was invaluable in assisting me throughout the many resume review sessions, networking opportunities, mock interviews, and career perspective conversations.

Advice for students interested in the e-commerce industry

If you want to work with pricing intelligence or even the e-commerce world, make sure you enjoy working in a fast-paced environment and that you like working with data. You have to be curious and agile, always question your surroundings, and make sure you ask the right questions.

Advice for international students applying to the program

What you get out of the M.S. in Commerce Program goes beyond what you learn in the classroom. There is something really special about having such a diverse group of people—students from all over the world, with different background and majors—learning to work together in after class group projects and experiencing Charlottesville together. What makes the M.S. in Commerce Program experience so incredible is the diversity of the people you meet, and that you get to be a part of. So get out there, network, meet new people, and build new relationships.

Most memorable GIE company visit

My most memorable company visit was to BTPN Bank in Jakarta, Indonesia. I am very passionate about solidarity economy and initiatives like BTPN Bank that use microloans and access to information/education to assist people in growing their small businesses, while ensuring a better life for them and their families.

Most memorable GIE cultural experience

The most memorable cultural experience was visiting the Jomblang Cave in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The cave was naturally formed thousands of years ago when a patch of land measuring 300 meters across dropped into a sinkhole. The visit consisted of being lowered on a rope into the sinkhole, and hiking to find the underground cave and swimming in its complex of underground rivers. At a precise time—around noon if I remember correctly—the sun’s rays shine through an opening, illuminating the cave below and creating a mesmerizing sight. The whole experience of traveling through rural Indonesia, meeting its incredible people, and trying typical local food culminated into one of the most memorable experiences I have ever had.

Life after graduate business school

Whirlpool Brazil is the founder of one of the biggest initiatives nationally for empowering women from poor and neglected communities and teaching them the skills necessary for opening and running their own business. I have recently become a multiplier, and work as a teacher in a classroom alongside incredible women in teaching them basic concepts of marketing, finance and accounting, and how they can apply these skills in running their own successful business.

Favorite Charlottesville activity

Being an international student, tailgates and football games were all very new and exciting to me. But I don't think it compares to the joy I had in running to Bodo's between classes to grab breakfast or having a beer outside Trinity after a long day of group projects.