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How One Poole Alumna Combined Her Passion for Medicine, Supply Chain and International Studies

Lorena Souza is a recent alumna of the NC State Poole College of Management who received her bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in supply chain in December 2019. While Souza will soon be starting a full-time position in supply chain with BioMérieux, a global leader in in-vitro diagnostics, business was not her initial career path.

I would not have been able to navigate the corporate environment without the preparation and knowledge that I received through both Poole College and CHASS. – Lorena Souza

Souza is from Brazil, where her parents, who are both doctors, wanted her to pursue a medical career. While she was interested in the medical field, Souza’s discomfort with blood made her reluctant to pursue a medical degree. Her parents then presented her with an option.

“They said I could either go to medical school in Brazil, or go to America where I would have to do something I can do anywhere in the world,” said Souza. 

Souza had always had a fascination with America through TV, movies, music and books about American culture, and she visited the United States several times growing up. When it came time to apply for college, she was drawn to NC State because of its proximity to the Research Triangle Park and the job opportunities it presents. After getting accepted to NC State, she chose to study at the Poole College of Management with the hopes of being able to use a business degree to pursue a variety of job opportunities around the world. 

Finding Her Pack

Although Souza admits she was not terribly passionate about studying business at first, she soon found her stride when she learned about the Alexander Hamilton Scholars Program, a dual degree program that allows students to earn concurrent degrees from Poole and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHASS). Through this program, Souza was able to double major in business administration and international studies with a concentration in global relations, which helped her envision all sorts of new and interesting career paths. 

Lorena (left) and other members of the Business Analytics Honors team

The Scholars program also gave Souza an opportunity to study abroad back in Brazil, which is when she discovered a way to combine her passion for medicine and her newfound interest in business through an internship with BioArchitects

“After that experience, I felt more confident that I could join these things together: the medicine and my passion for helping people, and the business side of things,” said Souza.

Once Souza returned to the U.S., she discovered the Business Analytics Honors Program at Poole as a way to apply her business background to medical product development. Around that same time, she declared supply chain management as her business administration concentration, because she describes herself as a very process-oriented person. 

“I like to create goals and make processes efficient,” said Souza. “Supply chain is extremely important for the completion and distribution of products. Supply chain is everywhere.”

Building a Career Path

Souza then refocused on shaping her career path, starting with an internship at GKN Driveline, an automotive industry supplier. While the internship was not in the health care industry, Souza says her time at GKN Driveline gave her more experience with supply chain, working for a global company and learning the implementation of information systems.

Souza also held an internship position at BioMérieux during the summer of 2019, where she contributed to a warehouse expansion project and interfaced with colleagues from France. 

Zack Miller (from left) Lorena and Sam Shain celebrate the opening of CMEDO.

As her time at NC State was coming to a close, Souza was inspired by her international studies capstone class project on the global south. Along with teammates Sam Shain and Zack Miller, She created the Climate Migration Employment Development Organization (CMEDO) out of concern of impending climate change and the impoverished areas on the coast. 

“Due to the effects of climate change, the upper class will begin to migrate inland and increase the cost of living in those areas,” said Souza. “Our business model is to identify low- to middle-income families that will become future climate-imposed migrants and match them with states and cities that are in need of people [for employment].”

The three founders of CMEDO plan to continue working on the start-up after graduation by committing to three hours a week to planning and developing the organization around their full-time jobs. 

Souza also participated in the supply chain practicum course where she worked with Caterpillar using real-time data and software should could use later in her career. 

“Overall, I think it was a positive experience that I’m very proud of saying that I did a practicum course, and that NC State was able to give me the opportunity because I don’t think a lot of colleges do that,” said Souza.

The Payoff of Hard Work

Along with her continued commitment to CMEDO, Souza will begin her role as a production document specialist with BioMérieux in February, where her collective NC State background in supply chain, business analytics and international studies will come into play. She will be responsible for keeping documentation of production to maximize product availability for customer demand and audits for FDA, as well as helping the supply chain systems group manage its enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.

“Without all of the experience I got both from the classroom and my internships, I wouldn’t have been suited for the role,” said Souza.

As for her international studies degree, Souza is excited about the fact that BioMérieux, a French company, has offices in Brazil and all over the world. Her new employers have expressed that she will have future opportunities to explore working internationally.

“NC State provided me with the tools that enabled me to pave my way into the professional world,” said Souza. “I would not have been able to navigate the corporate environment without the preparation and knowledge that I received through both Poole College and CHASS. I am excited to apply those experiences as I begin my professional journey.”

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