Center for International Education
Spring 2011

Visit from Roberta Barbieri ’88 drew enthusiasm from students at different levels and in diverse disciplines

Roberta Barbieri graduated from UNH in 1988 with a dual major in international affairs and environmental conservation. She continued her education at the University of New Haven, earning M.S. degrees in both environmental science and environmental engineering. Her passions for environmental concerns and international involvement have never flagged, and today she is Global Environmental Program Director for Diageo, the world’s largest premium alcoholic beverage company.

Roberta Barbieri joined IA instructor Ben Cole for a casual career conversation with international affairs seniors.
Roberta Barbieri joined IA instructor Ben Cole for a casual career conversation with international affairs seniors.

When Roberta Barbieri first agreed to come back to UNH to talk with students about her career path, she didn’t realize how diverse her student audiences would be. A participant in CIE’s Happy Returns* program, Barbieri knew she would be talking to undergraduate students in international affairs and natural resources — the two programs from which she earned her undergraduate degree.

But Professor James Malley in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences also invited her to talk to undergraduate and graduate students from environmental engineering and related disciplines. From WSBE’s Department of Hospitality Management, Professor Nelson Barber requested that she speak to his Beverage Management/International Wines class, which includes students in the new UNH Eco-gastronomy program.


“...This was an excellent experience and a good example of the power of working together across disciplines for the benefit of all at UNH.”
       ~ Professor James Malley
         Civil/Environmental Engineering

In addition to providing information about her current position as Global Environmental Program Director with Diageo in Norwalk, CT, Barbieri tailored her comments to the students’ situations, covering a variety of topics. For example, recalling her own terror of study abroad, a requirement for her undergraduate dual major in international affairs and environmental conservation, she talked with younger students about the great value of study abroad and speaking a foreign language. Giving resume and job search advice, she noted that regardless of the career choice, students would benefit from learning communication and project management skills.

Giving resume and job search advice, she noted that regardless of the career choice, students would benefit from learning communication and project management skills.

Whatever the focus of her discussion with students across the disciplines, Barbieri was very impressed by the conversations she had with them. “I was gratified to see how knowledgeable the students were on the environmental issues that face us today. I came away from my visit inspired and with a renewed sense of hope for the future.”

Student reactions:

“I was scared about studying abroad and being on my own in a foreign country, but Roberta talked about breaking out of your comfort zone to grow and learn. Now I am thrilled for my study abroad experience in the fall. It excited me about the future!!”

“Loved it! I did not realize that environmental students could go into a field like that.”

“... I would have loved to have a presentation like this earlier in my college career…it was extra relevant to me because my majors are IA and Environmental Conservation.”


“I was very interested in the conflict between marketing sustainability in the industry and the brand’s reputation.”

“…I really got a lot out of what she had to say… good ideas for the job search.”

“This presentation was very helpful in broadening my career plans and gave me a better perspective about what post graduate life will be like.”

“...this will help me make decisions in terms of class choice in the future.”

* Happy Returns is supported by gifts from the Class of 1954 Academic Enrichment Fund and the UNH Foundation.