Elizabeth Pearson

Elizabeth Pearson

Degree(s): BJ 2003

What do you do?

I am a bestselling author, writer, executive coach, and media personality.

I spent 15 years in Corporate Sales and built brands including vitaminwater, smartwater, pirate’s booty, and skinfix. I grew their national distribution and helped them get acquired by companies such as Coca-Cola and B&G Foods. At age 35 I decided to walk away from it all, move to Southern California, and become an entrepreneur — all while being a wife and mother to two small children.

How did you get your job?

I worked as an intern for vitaminwater in Boston during the summer between my junior and senior year at Mizzou. That job lead came from my career counselor in the J-School.

I minored in advertising so sales felt like a natural fit. That internship changed my entire life and gave me to courage to branch out and live in large cities outside of Missouri.

What is the best professional lesson you learned at the J-School?

Anything is possible. 
Sales and Journalism are very similar and you can use your existing skillset to foster new skills and learning.

I was an ad rep for the Maneater for 2 years and then the Business Manager in 2003, which fed my entrepreneurial spirit and gave me a framework for how to seek out business and generate revenue on my own.

What advice do you have for current students?

They have the power to choose their destiny–not their current circumstances. No matter your family’s income level, your race, your body size, or your gender– you have a powerful voice that deserves to be heard. “Closed mouths don’t get fed” so speak up for yourself. Advocate for each other and yourself.

What is your favorite J-School memory?

I think once a month, we had a “breakfast class”. Each student in my advertising class would bring a breakfast item and share it with each other and we’d happily nosh while the professor would teach us something incredible. It felt like a family.

Additional Comments

I have yet to return to Mizzou since my 2003 graduation — mainly because the day after graduation I moved to Chicago for my full-time job with Vitaminwater, but I’ve always dreamed about coming back to the campus and speaking to a class of J-School students about my journey and how they can expect to go far with the incredible education Mizzou will provide. I’d love nothing more than to be a shining example of just how far they can go. I went from the Maneater, to becoming a writer for Forbes, to being on NBC at 30 Rock, and authoring a bestselling book. They too can dream big and achieve.

Updated: October 12, 2023