Olivia Fritz, TrueNorth Collective
IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Olivia Fritz, co-founder & business development manager, TrueNorth Collective.
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?
I recently took a big risk and left my corporate job in sustainable design engineering to co-found a sustainability consulting company, so the most rewarding aspect is the freedom to build something great with an awesome team. It’s challenging learning how to navigate all the startup steps such as developing an operating agreement with several people, figuring out international tax rules, and trying to estimate our time properly for client work. Overall, it’s all part of the learning process and it’s a really exciting time!
Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?
I admire a former VP of engineering at Kohler Company, Cynthia Bachmann. I had limited interactions with her, but all of them were very positive. Even as a co-op student, Cynthia took the time to meet with me and listen to my experiences and feedback. I attended her retirement party and remember thinking, “Wow, what a legacy she has left.” She grew so many unique initiatives at Kohler, developed a great culture, always had an open-door policy, and managed it all with grace and humility, which is a very unique talent. She invested in people and it really showed.
What has been the high point of your career so far?
I think I’m in it right now. Leaving my corporate job on my own accord in the middle of a pandemic to start a company was not something I had planned, but it just seemed like the right time and things fell into place. It’s definitely an adventure. Other than that, presenting at the National Society of Women in Engineering (SWE) conference in 2019 on Design for Sustainability to over 200 students and professionals takes second place. The audience was very engaging and the topic really seemed to resonate, which made me hopeful and excited for our future.
Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
I would encourage myself to have more positive self-talk and less judgement and self-criticism. Over the last couple of years, I’ve learned how much this has potentially been holding me back from doing more, challenging the norm, and being authentic to myself. It is constantly a work in progress, but I wish I would’ve identified this much earlier in my career so I could’ve started addressing it then. Taking time to invest in learning more about yourself and how you relate to others is a part of this. Utilizing personality assessments and other tools has been very helpful in my development journey.
What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?
Dane County has so much going on to get involved in, but it’s not as overwhelming as a huge city. It’s relatively easy to get around and explore without the stress of heavy traffic. I love how active this city is and all the quick access to nature whether it’s at Olin Park, Olbrich Gardens, Pheasant Branch Conservancy, or going out to one of the many county or state parks. I haven’t lived here long as a professional, but I’m looking forward to getting more involved in that regard as well.
Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?
I can walk and “stand” on my hands. I’m a former competitive gymnast and while there are a lot of skills I can’t do now, I practice handstands pretty regularly. Getting upside down is a great feeling. I also walked onto the UW–Madison lightweight rowing team and competed for a short time before I realized the lightweight lifestyle and diet restrictions combined with the stress of being a first-year engineering student was not for me. Luckily though, I met some of my best friends through my time on the team.
What are your guilty pleasures?
Staying up late and sleeping in is a guilty pleasure of mine. I secretly wish I was a morning person, but that hasn’t worked out for me so far. Working from home doesn’t help me get up earlier now that my office is right down the hallway. I look forward to Saturday mornings when I don’t have to set an alarm. I hear that the most successful people wake up at 6 a.m. or earlier, but I’m not sure I’ll get there anytime soon, unfortunately.
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