Olyvia Schmidt, MBA '16

Olyvia Schmidt, MBA ’16

Meet Olyvia Schmidt, MBA ’16! Olyvia was a part of our MBA Class of 2016 and graduated with an emphasis in Marketing. She says her time at Champan is probably one of the most exciting and transformative experiences ever. Olyvia is originally from Ukraine and completed her undergraduate degree at the International Christian University (Vienna/Kyiv) with a dual major in Finance and Marketing. She traveled all the way to the United States with her furry feline friend, Cappucina, to complete the Chapman MBA program.

Olyvia’s Chapman Experience

The MBA Experience

When pursuing her MBA at Chapman University, Olyvia was extremely impressed and inspired by the caliber of faculty, the diversity within her cohort, and the support provided by Chapman’s administrative staff along every step of her educational journey.

“The Argyros School and Chapman University provided me with an opportunity to expand my knowledge and re-caliber my experience to a completely new market and career path,” she says. “The program was crafted to equip MBA students with the business acumen needed to succeed in the competitive workplace environment of today. Also, the Career Advancement team was so helpful in providing valuable insights and support with job hunting, resumes, introductions, referrals, panels, etc.”

Campus Involvement

Olyvia’s involvement at Chapman was mostly around the Chapman Women’s Tennis team where she played as a sub, since her enrollment didn’t qualify her for a permanent spot on the team per NCAA rules. She says that this didn’t necessarily impact her career directly, but that it was an incredible experience and Coach Will Marino was the best!

Influential People

For Olyvia, there were a lot of influential people during her Chapman MBA experience:

Olyvia was a Graduate Assistant for Dr. Lynne Doti, helping her research for the book she was writing. She says that they became pretty close during that time, and she is honored to call her a friend and mentor.

Olyvia says that while she and Dr. Niklas Myhr didn’t always see eye-to-eye on certain topics (which is a good thing), she was very inspired by his passion for marketing and his constant willingness to bring only the latest and greatest to his students. She was a Graduate Assistant for him as well.

Olyvia visiting Dr. Niklas Myhr’s class as a guest speaker.

And finally, Dr. Ken Murphy played a hand in helping Olyvia re-discover her passion for business analytics, and Joel Pearson, to who she is forever grateful, supported her and fellow international students. She says if it was not for Joel, she probably wouldn’t have been offered her job at Farmer John, as he went into a true fight for her.

Favorite Courses

“I truly enjoyed Business Analytics and Business Statistics classes,” says Olyvia. “I loved building models and the use of predictive analytics to model business outcomes. Probably one of the reasons I was so excited about those classes was because we were leveraging computers and software to help us do the work vs. back in my undergrad days, I was doing all of it with pen, paper, and calculator.”

Olyvia’s Career Post-Grad

Olyvia’s Current Role

Olyvia has held a few positions since graduating, including a 4-year stint gaining invaluable experience in finance at KPMG, and has been in marketing in the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) space for almost 15 years. She started with her current employer, Zevia, in August 2019. Olyvia describes Zevia as a company that is “disrupting the refreshment beverage industry with great tasting, zero sugar beverages made with simple, plant-based ingredients.”

Throughout her tenure at Zevia, Olyvia has been managing different verticals within the business for both the U.S. and Canada. These verticals include shopper marketing, digital marketing, brand marketing, brand management, and consumer insights.

Olyvia with her team at Zevia.

Olyvia currently leads the strategy and execution of the brand’s entire product portfolio as VP of Portfolio Management. “Within my current role, I oversee all products in Zevia’s portfolio and ensure alignment between product development and Zevia’s overall growth strategy,” she says. “I am responsible for the development of the portfolio to expand the consumer base and intensify consumption in order to drive growth in net revenue and profitability within the business to enhance shareholder value.”

“I think my career path was built through a combination of various things,” says Olyvia, “first and foremost, passion around consumer and the CPG sector. I have always been extremely curious about consumer insights and need states. After all, the consumer is the boss and drives two-thirds of U.S. annual GDP.”

Olyvia also attributes the following to where she is today: a strong background in marketing across various disciplines, experience in product development and innovation, management of international markets, experience in finance, and being part of a multicultural environment.

Advice to Students & Recent Graduates

“Choose the path of passion.” Olyvia says not to get discouraged or worry about not getting in a “big place with a big name,” for example, the Big Four, BCG, PepsiCo, LVMH, Nike, etc., right away. “There is always an opportunity to learn and expand. your knowledge regardless of the size of the company.”

She also says that there are always skills to acquire from those around you and that “there is no ‘wrong’ or ‘irrelevant’ experience. Everything you learn along the way will get you more equipped for the next step in your career.”

Olyvia’s final thoughts: “Stay humble, stay curious, ask questions, and WORK HARD. Your learning journey doesn’t end with graduation. It is an ongoing endeavor that you should embrace and enjoy.”


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