Laura Anderson ’15 lives and works in London as a change management officer at Selfridges & Co., the top-ranked department store in the world.
In this role, it’s her job is to assist the company in its transformation and transition toward modern automation and processes.
“Change management is a growing industry,” Anderson says. “It’s most common in large organizations and industries that have been around for ages and ages and have outdated systems and technology solutions.”
A decade ago, Anderson gave little thought to life outside the United States, let alone how to launch a thriving career abroad.
In 2011, a wide-eyed first-year from St. Paul, Minnesota, Anderson moved into Ross Hall oblivious to what it meant to study abroad.
Was it a gap year for undeclared students? Could it be a chance to galavant across Europe for a couple of months?
Her perspective and interest in international travel changed when she switched her major to Critical Communication and Media Studies.
She also spoke with Jill McKinney MS ’11 (then Associate Director of the Center for Global Education and now Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs and Director of Global Engagement) and learned about the wide range of study abroad opportunities Butler offered.
“[My coursework] really drove me to change how I thought about the world and pushed me to reconsider my worldview,” Anderson says. “I wanted to embrace my own opportunities and figure some things out for myself.
During her final two years of undergrad, Anderson lived in three additional countries while working toward her degree.
First, she spent the summer prior to her junior year in South Africa with faculty from the College of Communication, including professors Margaretha Geertsema-Sligh and Ann Savage.
In addition to providing her with the opportunity to dive with great white sharks in Cape Town, Anderson was able to work toward her degree and experience an introduction to the richness that a life abroad offered.
Next, she spent the fall semester in the Netherlands at the partnering institution, the University of Maastricht.
“That was completely on my own and life-changing,” Anderson says. “When you go to college, you’re still surrounded by faculty and many curated experiences to prepare you for your first time away from home. Being abroad was the first opportunity to completely be out on my own. People spoke a different language, I experienced culture shock, and overcame ambiguous situations and barriers.”
Upon her return, as her friends spoke of their once-in-a-lifetime experiences abroad, Anderson again felt called to flee the comforts of home and further broaden her horizon.
“I was really eager to see what other opportunities there were,” Anderson says. “I thought, ‘what’s next?’”
The next summer she landed a position with World Next Door Magazine as a multimedia journalist intern.
Based in Nairobi, Kenya, she covered a safari and lake district destination, often overlooked by international tourists, as well as a story about a local nonprofit led by and funded by local Kenyans.
“My roommates and colleagues were Kenyan,” Anderson says, “and I fully immersed myself in that experience.”
During her senior year, she returned to the Butler campus and worked as an operations and communications intern at Indy Hostel, where she would interact with international guests daily, but the itch to return abroad never subsided.
She frequently discussed post-graduation interests with her Butler professors, Kristin Swenson and Allison Harthcock, to explore options for completing a master’s program abroad.
Not only did they work extensively to help her fit her various internships and study abroad opportunities into her schedule, but she found everyone was heavily invested in her future endeavors.
In 2015, Anderson enrolled at the University of London, where she received a master’s degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies.
“Once I got here, I fell in love with the city itself,” Anderson says. “The vibrancy of everyday life here and the hustle and bustle. Of course, you’ve also got to love a bit of dry British sarcasm. London is just so saturated with language, culture, and access to anything in the world just within the city itself.”
Over the next five years, she advanced her career in research-related roles at various companies, such as The Guardian and Virgin Media.
In fall 2019, Anderson began her career as a Change Management Officer at Selfridges. Though she’s no longer working within the media industry, she still leans on her education daily.
“Thinking about my audience and how people need to actually receive information in order to process it is at the core of my role,” Anderson says. “My strong communication background absolutely enabled me to be successful today.”
In addition to calling London home, she’s visited 32 countries across five continents. Up next on her list are destinations in South America and Antarctica.
“Without my experiences studying abroad, I wouldn’t have had the confidence, the curiosity, or the urge to move to London and to start a life and career or even think of it as an option,” Anderson says. “Each one of those experiences showed me that I had the necessary capabilities, skill set, and tools. I have to credit a lot of that to the Butler faculty.”