Julia Di Natale ’22 has been named Bryant University’s 2022 Recent Alumni Trustee in recognition of her success as a scholar and as a leader. A first-generation college student from East Islip, NY, and the newest analyst at Goldman Sachs, Di Natale has presented her research at prestigious academic conferences and served as president of both the University’s International Business Association and its Student Honors Council.
For Di Natale, who majored in International Business (IB) with a double concentration in Marketing and Global Supply Chain Management and a minor in French, the trustee position is an opportunity to give back to a school that has been instrumental in her personal and professional growth. “When I came to Bryant, I said, ‘I want to become a person who can accomplish big things’ and I knew that there were people here that could help me get there,” she states.
On one of her first visits to the University, Di Natale met Danielle Nikosey ’20, who helped her consider all of the options open to her as a Bryant student. “I realized I wanted to be like her,” Di Natale says. “She became my friend and mentor and she helped me realize Bryant was the place I wanted to call home for the next four years.”
“The IB program has so many international faculty members who have lived and worked overseas and they bring those experiences back into the classrooms. They can say, ‘The things you’re learning about? I’ve done them and I can tell you all about it.’”
Learning about Bryant’s International Business Program, currently ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, further cemented that decision. “I knew I wanted to study business and I wanted an international education, but I didn't know exactly where that might lead me in my career,” she says. “Then I found out that Bryant’s IB program allows you to take different tracks and study different concentrations. I learned that I could study the things I love like marketing, while also branching out to other areas like global supply chain management while still having that international foundation that was so important to me.”
“At that point, I realized this was definitely the place for me,” Di Natale notes.
In the IB program, Di Natale found a curriculum focused on real-world experience, which fit her style of learning perfectly. She especially appreciated the diverse perspectives her professors brought to her studies. “The IB program has so many international faculty members who have lived and worked overseas and they bring those experiences back into the classroom,” she notes. “They can say, ‘The things you’re learning about? I’ve done them and I can tell you all about it.’”
“She knew my potential beyond what I could recognize. She pushed me in my work because she knew that I could do it.”
Through her diverse concentrations, Di Natale honed skills that gave her an important edge. Marketing courses helped her develop her creativity and her understanding of consumer psychology. Studying Global Supply Chain Management provided her with an understanding of how complex systems inform one another in modern business.
She also valued opportunities to test her skills in the real world. Through the IB program’s Practicum capstone course, which pairs teams of students with international companies, Di Natale helped to develop a marketing campaign for manufacturing firm TechniMetals. “Where else would I have the chance to use the skills that I’ve developed on a professional project while I was still a student?” she notes.
Eager to get the most out of her education, Di Natale joined the college Honors Program, where she enjoyed in-depth conversations with her peers that allowed them to learn from each other’s perspectives. For her Honors Thesis, Di Natale, with Assistant Professor of Marketing Ganga Urumutta Hewage, Ph.D., as her advisor, chose to examine how perceptions regarding a product’s country of origin affect its desirability, a project that combined her marketing skills with her love of exploring other cultures.
It was Hewage who encouraged her to submit her work to several high-level academic conferences, a rarity for undergraduate students. “She knew my potential beyond what I could recognize,” says Di Natale. “She pushed me in my work because she knew that I could do it.”
“I’ve had so many mentors in my life, Danielle, people in my family, professors, staff, and other peers. I strived to be able to provide mentorship for fellow students and help them have the best Bryant experience they can.”
Her research was accepted at two major conferences—an impressive accomplishment that led to a hectic week where she presented at the Society of Marketing Advances Annual Conference in Orlando before delivering a remote presentation for the 2021 Global Fashion Management Conference in Seoul that same day.
Presenting her work was an incredibly rewarding experience, says Di Natale—especially for a student finding her footing in her field. “What I was doing didn’t really sink in until the flight home from Florida,” she says. “I had presented as an undergrad to an audience of professionals in academics who were actually interested in my work. I was glad I was wearing my mask on the plane because I couldn’t stop smiling.”
“I don’t think a lot of other schools give students opportunities like this,” she reflects.
Learning to lead
Beyond her studies, Di Natale became a leader in the Bryant community. Through her involvement with groups like the International Business Association, the Student Honors Council, and the IDEA (Innovation and Design Experience for All) Program, she helped other students discover their own personal paths to success and build a close-knit community of collaborators and friends.
“I’ve had so many mentors in my life, Danielle, people in my family, professors, staff, and other peers,” says Di Natale. “I strived to be able to provide mentorship for fellow students and help them have the best Bryant experience they can.”
“I’ve always had confidence deep inside of me, but I used to have doubts as well. Bryant helped me bring that confidence to the surface and realize that I can achieve even my biggest goals.”
That sense of community spirit, she says, suffuses the campus. “Everybody cares about everybody here. I can’t walk anywhere on this campus without seeing familiar faces. It's really comforting, but it’s also just very Bryant.”
The next challenge
Di Natale recently started at Goldman Sachs as an analyst on their change management team. Her Bryant experience, she says, played a key role in helping her secure the competitive position. “I think they liked the wide variety of things that I have done while at Bryant: the work I’ve done, the academic conferences I’ve presented at and the leadership positions I’ve held,” Di Natale suggests.
She aims to be the Chief Executive Office of a multinational corporation one day. “One of the biggest things I’ve learned at Bryant is that I want to be in a position where I can help others,” says Di Natale. “I’d like to be able to impact people's lives in a positive way—whether that's my own employees, or our customers, or the general population.”
Di Natale knows she has a long road ahead of her to reach that point, but she also knows she’s up for the challenge. “I’ve always had confidence deep inside of me, but I used to have doubts as well,” she says. “Bryant helped me bring that confidence to the surface and realize that I can achieve even my biggest goals.”