Global Links

New Global Links Initiative Scholar Focused on Careers and Community-building

Marielza Cavallari wants to expand opportunities for female entrepreneurs and social enterprises in South America’s largest nation.

By Laura J. Cole ’04 ’08MLS

As a former executive for major multinational companies including Kellogg and Pirelli Tires, Marielza Cavallari knows the challenges facing women in the corporate world—and hopes to leverage this understanding to advance women entrepreneurs in developing countries.

“I have a very good business view, but it lacks a bigger knowledge in terms of entrepreneurship,” said Cavallari. “I want to learn how to help women develop their businesses, which helps develop the society in their small communities and gives their kids a chance of a better future. That’s what excites me about the program at Crummer.”

Cavallari is the fifth scholar for The Global Links Initiative (TGLI) and the second from São Paulo, Brazil, where she is a professor of marketing and strategy at Escola Superior de Propaganda e Marketing (ESPM) and Insper. She holds both master’s and bachelor’s degrees in business administration from Escola de Administração de Empresas de São Paulo at Fundação Getulio Vargas. Her extensive professional experience ranges from coordinator to international regional director positions for both local and multinational consumer goods companies, and she has worked in markets including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Italy, and Venezuela. In addition to teaching at ESPM, she also coordinates a junior consultancy office in business internationalization.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the TGLI program, which advances women’s education, economic empowerment, and social change. Since its inception in 2011 as a private-public partnership between Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College and the U.S. Secretary of State’s Office of Global Women’s Issues, the program has hosted four scholars from Iraq, India, and Brazil, engaging more than 5,000 students and reaching over 150 women entrepreneurs. In 2020, the Rick and Susan Goings Foundation became the primary financial sponsor for TGLI, thus launching plans to expand its reach across Latin America.

“The Global Links Initiative brings to life our global mission to empower women, enable their financial independence, and change their lives through opportunity, education, and entrepreneurship,” said Rick Goings ’12H, chairman of The Rick and Susan Goings Foundation. “Through this initiative, we hope to inspire the development of a new generation of female entrepreneurs.”

Cavallari has been working remotely with the TGLI team since January as a result of the pandemic, and arrived in Winter Park on August 16, after borders reopened. As part of the first phase of the program, she is auditing courses at Rollins focused on entrepreneurship, innovation, and sustainable business practices and will be connecting with local social enterprises and entrepreneurs to observe their businesses and swap experiences.

“At TGLI our work is guided by a set of values—one of those being community building,” said Yasmin Mesbah ’16 ’18MBA, TGLI program manager. “Having Cavallari on campus for a semester allows us to integrate her into the Rollins and Winter Park communities. Her presence builds strong relationships between The GLI team, partners, and the scholar, which are essential components for the success of all TGLI phases, as well as the long-term success of our mission.”

After Cavallari completes the semester at Rollins, she will return to ESPM to recruit students who will partner with local women entrepreneurs to help them grow their businesses, build their self-confidence, and learn more about the impact of their enterprises—all to further their financial independence. In the final phase of the program, Cavallari will return to Winter Park with a select group of these students to report to the program’s stakeholders about their experiences and what they’ve learned.

Nearly two months into her experience on campus, Cavallari is excited about what she has learned and the opportunity to learn more.

“Being engaged in social entrepreneurship and social causes seems to be part of the DNA of Crummer,” Cavallari said. “I have been quite surprised to see that this is not only true in The Global Links Initiative. The university and campus are really involved with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and are pushing for an ecosystem that is good for social entrepreneurs in Central Florida, and a lot of things have pleasantly surprised me in terms of how intense they are.”

This is not Cavallari’s first time to Florida or the United States. She has visited both several times as a tourist and as a representative for her former employers.

But she is happy to have a chance to experience both at a slower pace and is hoping to not only learn more in her classes at Crummer and the College of Liberal Arts but to participate in true cultural exchanges and take full advantage of her time in Winter Park.

“I’d like students, professors, and administrators to know that I’m open to contributing to a range of conversations, including diversity and inclusion, and I’m open for questions, for debates, or just chatting over a cup of coffee about life and work in Brazil or even my university. I also love nature, and would love recommendations of things to do in Florida.”