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Jacob Brumfield: A face behind the “Wal”

“Transylvania fosters a safe environment to come in and explore a million things before you land on something to major in, and even from there you’re equipped to do more than what it says on your diploma.”

Jacob Brumfield's desk resides in one of the most powerful office buildings in America. But despite rapidly ascending the corporate ladder at Walmart's headquarters, he hasn't lost focus on the human element. For Jacob '10, it's more than just business—it's about helping people live and work better.

Jacob credits not only his business administration major and his anthropology and philosophy classes for his success as a business leader, but also his service as Student Government Association president. It’s in that role that he learned the value of looking at the world not simply in business terms, but in human terms.

"Transylvania cultivated me as a human, not as a businessman, and being the human in a boardroom of businessmen and businesswomen is a powerful and good position."

Jacob Brumfield

Working in Walmart headquarters' information technology strategy group, Jacob belongs to a "special-ops" team designed to transform and simplify the business process, helping to reduce operating costs. But, according to Jacob, this can't happen at the expense of Walmart's own people.

"My role specifically is to manage how people in the organization adjust to change and adopt new ways of working," he explains. "I have to make sure that as we make Walmart a better, more efficient company, we are simultaneously making it a better place for our associates to work and are protecting their quality of life."

Jacob isn't fazed by the variety of challenges he faces. Transylvania helped teach him to meet them head-on. "I wouldn't be where I am nor excel at what I do if it weren't for my liberal arts education," he claims. "We talk all the time about how Transylvania helps you become well-rounded, think critically, and see the world multi-dimensionally. That's never as evident as when you're in the corporate world, in a stark minority of liberally educated people."

Sitting behind his desk at one of the most powerful corporations in the world, Jacob knows that he is more than a cog in a machine—more than a title on his office door. He possesses an identity and concern for people solidified by his time as a Transylvania Pioneer.

"A liberal arts education didn't teach me to do something," Jacob says. "It led me to be someone."

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