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News > Alumni Spotlight > Sara Martins de Oliveira

Sara Martins de Oliveira

"St. Julian's has shaped my entire life"
Sara Martins de Oliveira
Sara Martins de Oliveira

Sara Martins de Oliveira is a highly accomplished professional with a background in economics and an extensive career in marketing and brand. She graduated from Nova University with a degree in Economics and a specialisation in business economics. Sara's journey began at Unilever, where she held positions as Global Brand Development Director and Global Marketing Director both in Portugal and France. She later transitioned to Vodafone, assuming roles as Brand & Communications Director in Portugal and subsequently as Global Brand & Media Director in the London head office, overseeing brand management and media strategies worldwide. Currently residing in Jamaica, Sara serves as a Senior Marketing Director and Member of the Senior Leadership Team for Cable and Wireless Communications overseeing Jamaica and the North Caribbean markets.

What was it like attending St. Julian’s?

Coming from a Portuguese family, I joined the school when I was just three years old. At that time, studying at an international school was quite unique. St. Julian's was my whole childhood up until 15. I loved it. It is an incredible school. Mr Bull, who was the headmaster and my neighbour, played a significant role in my time there. Our relationship was so strong that he even attended my wedding.
Academic rigour and discipline were highly emphasised at St. Julian's. Although it may not have been fully apparent at the time, I later realised the immense value of these qualities. When I was interviewed for a position at Unilever after studying Economics at Nova University, my time at St. Julian's was seen as an advantage. It made me unique. They were particularly interested in my experience attending an international school, the subjects I studied, and how my English proficiency was better. The skills I acquired at St. Julian's played a critical role in my success at Unilever, as the company operated on a multinational scale.
St. Julian's has shaped my entire life, and to this day, most of my closest friends are the ones I made during my time there. It truly feels like a family, and we have remained tightly knit over the years.

Is there a memory you hold dear from St. Julian's?

There are so many. But the most emotional one was the song we sang on the last day of school at assembly, It’s a Long Road to Freedom. I have no words to describe that moment. It was so special and deeply moving.

Did the SJS curriculum programme prepare you for your career?

Absolutely. Firstly, the fact that I was fluent in three languages was a remarkable asset. I simultaneously studied both the English and Portuguese curricula, undertaking all disciplines in duplicate. This allowed me to delve into the wealth of knowledge offered by both curricula, reading books from both English and Portuguese perspectives. It was an invaluable experience.
Later on, I pursued economics, a field heavily focused on mathematics. This presented both challenges and advantages, as the English and Portuguese curricula differed significantly.
When I transitioned to a Portuguese school, I felt like I had mathematics on steroids because I was already ahead in many areas.
The education I received at St. Julian's was well-rounded, providing me with knowledge across a wide range of subjects until the International Baccalaureate level. We were encouraged to read extensively and submit book reports, instilling in us the importance of reading and how it enhanced our understanding of every other subject. The experiences and knowledge I collected during my time at St. Julian's have been an immense blessing throughout my life.

Did you have any favourite teachers?

There are too many to count. Ms Avery, Ms Bobone in K2, Mr Stuart, Ms Green, Mrs Bastos de Sousa, Mrs Artiga, Mrs Fenner Leitão and Madame Vian Costa are just a few names that come to mind. Each of them holds a special place in my heart. I have cherished memories of Mrs Fenner-Leitão and her demanding yet rewarding English classes.

You were a Global Brand director in companies like Unilever and Vodafone. What is the project you are most proud of?

I’ll talk about three. My years at Vodafone were really special because I led the global brand repositioning efforts. It involved defining the brand's purpose and aligning it with the company's global vision. We were on a purpose-driven journey, which was incredibly fulfilling. The project allowed us to delve deep into the essence of the brand and its role in the telecommunications industry.
I also had the opportunity to be part of a groundbreaking project. We were among the first companies to bring all our digital teams in-house and establish a dedicated digital hub. Lastly, working at Telecom in the Caribbean has been incredible these last few years. Our focus on democratising access to the internet has been pivotal in transforming people's lives. Witnessing its positive impact on individuals and communities has been an incredible privilege. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such meaningful work.

What advice would you give our students wanting to study Marketing & Communication?

I would advise making the most of your time at St. Julian's. Don't get too caught up in worrying about your university major. The school provides incredible opportunities, and enjoying and immersing yourself fully in the experience is important. St. Julian's prepares you exceptionally well for university life and gives you an amazing network. It builds your self-esteem, intellectual skills, and capacity for analytical thinking, all of which are crucial in the field of Marketing. The school also encourages you to express yourself, articulate your thoughts, and engage in debates. These skills are invaluable in a rounded marketing role that interacts with various areas of a business. Marketing encompasses a wide range of sub-disciplines, from analytical aspects like media and digital to more creative aspects like advertising. Every subject you study at St. Julian's contributes to your understanding and proficiency in these areas.

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