Knowing languages and cultures gives French and business double major the edge at Anheuser-Busch InBev

by | Jan 2, 2017

Newly graduated UMSL alumna Sarah Rizzo will soon put her cross-cultural skills to good use at the multinational corporation.

Sarah Rizzo managed to gain the attention of Anheuser-Busch InBev during an impromptu meeting facilitated by UMSL logistics professors Andrea Cadenbach, James Campbell and Mitch Millstein. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Sarah Rizzo has cultivated a sense of adventure since coming to the University of Missouri–St. Louis in 2012. Spurred on by her parent’s advice to be open-minded and see the world, she studied abroad in France during her sophomore year and honed her language and logistics skills at the Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3, located in St. Louis’ sister city, Lyon.


The Study Abroad Scholarship and the Lyon Sister Cities Scholarship helped Sarah Rizzo spend a semester in France. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Rizzo)

“Traveling to Lyon was the first time that I ever really had to be independent. Basically I got there, and I didn’t know anyone. I had to get a metro pass, find my way to my apartment and find my way to the university. I felt pretty vulnerable,” she said. “It was an experience where I had to be open-minded and put myself out there. By the end, I felt like I truly grew as a person.”

Hand in hand with traveling to better understand different cultures and advance her language skills, Rizzo pursued several internship opportunities to gain business experience.

At the St. Louis Mosaic Project, she helped promote the success stories of international entrepreneurs by writing original copy and sharing immigrant experiences through newsletters and social media. At PluggedIN, she helped connect job seekers with companies in need of talent. At at the International Institute of St. Louis, she welcomed refugees from Syria, Iraq, Congo, Nepal, Somalia, Sudan and Burma.

“Refugees would come straight off the plane with almost nothing,” she said. “I’d process their paperwork, take them down to the donation room, and they’d pick out what they needed. It was really about helping them however possible, showing them how to ride the bus, enrolling their children in day care. It felt good knowing that I helped welcome them to the country, and I took the initiative to connect and get to know about their lives.”

Rizzo’s unique blend of experiences has resulted in an exciting new opportunity. The new UMSL alumna — who graduated Dec. 17 — has been hired on at Anheuser-Busch InBev where she will work as a senior analyst and supervise supply chains to Canada.

“With this job, I’ll be able to tie in my traveling and volunteering experiences, and I will get to use my French,” Rizzo said. “The French spoken in Canada is completely different from the French spoken in France. It’s like comparing the English spoken here to the English spoken in Wales or Ireland. I’m kind of excited to get the hang of a new accent!”

Since working with Rizzo during her freshman year, Anne-Sophie Blank, teaching professor of French, and Birgit Noll, chair of the Department of Language and Cultural Studies, have believed that the outgoing student’s unique combination of abilities and attitude would eventually pay off.

“Sarah has developed a deep intercultural awareness and the linguistic know-how to facilitate cross-cultural conversation, which has immediately caught the attention of Anheuser-Busch InBev,” said Noll. “In today’s global marketplace, her unique interdisciplinary education helped her launch a very promising career. We are so proud of her!”

During Rizzo’s study-abroad program in France, Blank conducted overseas phone calls with Rizzo and helping her navigate the finer parts of interacting with a new culture. Blank also credits her former student with a high level of cultural sensitivity to begin with.

“Sarah has always shown a deep interest in learning about other cultures,” said Blank. “Dr. Birgit Noll, myself and everyone in the French section are thrilled that she has already found a position in the ‘real world,’ which will allow her to use her business and foreign language skills. Sarah’s positive and friendly demeanor, her hard work and her readiness to accept challenges will make her a great asset anywhere she goes. For us, her professors and advisers, there is no greater satisfaction than seeing her succeed.”


Here, Sarah Rizzo is pictured visiting the bay in Porto, Portugal. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Rizzo)

Although Rizzo has journeyed to Europe a total of seven times so far, from France and Russia to Iceland and Croatia, she has never gone to Canada, but that will soon change when she travels to Quebec.

While she expects to enjoy new adventures and experiences exploring Mount Royal and the Notre Dame Basilica, Rizzo can’t help but look back on her time at UMSL with a twinge of nostalgia.

“I’ll miss the aspect of being a college student. I think everyone does,” she said. “Making any transition in life can be scary. Becoming an adult and having a full-time job will bring on new responsibilities and challenges. But I’ll learn to adjust, and it’s exciting to work for such a well-known company as Anheuser-Busch InBev. It will be amazing to be able to use all three of my degree areas — logistics, international business and French.”

As Rizzo moves forward, she plans on keeping in mind an impactful quote from “Le Petit Prince” by Antoine de Saint Exupéry: “On ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur. L’essential est invisible pour les yeux,” which can be translated, “We can only see well with the heart.”

The UMSL Experience

Ron Austin

Ron Austin