World View

OU alumnus Robert Meyer takes on Silicon Valley and broadens his horizons

Oakland University graduate Robert Meyer photographed walking outside of the School of Engineering and Computer Science

At Oakland University, alumnus Robert Meyer learned to step out his comfort zone and expand his worldview. Photo by Adam Sparkes

Silicon Valley

icon of a calendarFebruary 5, 2018

icon of a pencilBy Chris Lewis

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When Robert Meyer enrolled at Oakland University in 2004, he intended to stay for a year, then transfer to another school as a sophomore. The Lake Orion, Michigan, native had spent his entire life in the metro Detroit area, and he was eager for a change of scene. But, within a matter of weeks, his attitude changed as he fell in love with OU’s campus and student-centered community. He finished all four years and is a proud Golden Grizzly.

“I met so many people — friends, colleagues, you name it,” says Meyer. “I found it exciting to be with other students who were overcoming the same obstacles, like finals and studying.”

He adds, “Education is absolutely the No. 1 priority at Oakland. But it’s also important that you branch out of your comfort zone to get involved.”

Extending his comfort zone helped Meyer expand his worldview. During his sophomore year, he enrolled in an anthropology class about China that, in his words, “opened his eyes to how big the rest of the world is.” Upon receiving his bachelor’s degree in business management from the School of Business Administration, he acquired transferable skills, including finance, management, marketing and relationship building. Then, during his senior year, he had a capstone business management course in which the professor shared his personal international business experiences.

Oakland University graduate Robert Meyer in a mechanical engineering lab in the School of Engineering
Oakland University alumnus Robert Meyer in a mechanical engineering lab at the School of Engineering and Computer Science on campus. Photo by Adam Sparkes.

“I then realized that whatever line of work I did, I wanted to work internationally in some shape or form,” he says.

After graduation, he accepted a buyer position with Continental Automotive, which eventually led to an international assignment in Shanghai, China. Once that assignment was completed, he transferred to Ford Motor Company’s Purchasing Program Management group and worked with its joint venture in China.

While working overseas, he learned how crucial it is to have a thorough understanding of a country’s attitudes, cultures and histories. This knowledge would prove to be vital, as he was offered yet another opportunity to work as a global supply manager at Silicon Valley’s Tesla, Inc. The position would allow him to not only help catapult Tesla’s mission — to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy”— but to also work alongside some of the best and brightest engineering industry leaders.

“We are truly changing the world. Alternative and sustainable energy sources are the future — and it’s happening now,” Meyer says. “I am ecstatic and grateful to help make history alongside people I enjoy working with.”

As proven by Meyer’s education and career, success isn’t always a straight line. Each of his experiences — from deciding to earn his degree at OU after originally planning to transfer, to becoming involved in international business — have helped him prepare for a fruitful future in one of the world’s most competitive areas.

“Before joining Tesla, I felt complacent, constricted by bureaucracy and old-school ways of thought,” he says. “However, I soon learned there are no boundaries in Silicon Valley. You simply must not be afraid to step outside of your box and take chances.”

As Meyer’s path has proven, a little risk can lead to a big payoff.

“I’m not done yet,” he stresses. “By feeding my curiosity, striving to stay marketable and forcing myself to embrace feeling uncomfortable, I’ve been able to get where I’m at today. And I plan to keep going.”

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