Maura Sullivan
Maura Sullivan
Home Region

Evanston, IL

Undergrad Education

Northwestern University, 01, BA History and Economics

Previous Experience

Marine Corps Captain

HBS Activities

Armed Forces Club at Harvard Kennedy School, co-president; Armed Forces Alumni at HBS

“I see tremendous potential for companies to make a favorable impact on the environment and in the global community.”

Maura Sullivan sees in HBS many of the same qualities that had attracted her to the U.S. Marine Corps. "Choosing the right branch of the armed services was easy," Maura says. "I liked the camaraderie, the discipline, the esprit de corp of the Marines. It felt like I belonged, like coming home."

After five years in the Corps, including a seven-month tour of duty in Iraq where she managed multiple operations, Maura returned home eager for greater responsibility. "I knew I wanted something in management and regarded the private sector as a good training ground for leadership," she says. Among the options she considered for an MBA, HBS really stood out. "I was deeply touched by the reception I got when I visited," Maura says. "When I was introduced as just having returned from Iraq, the section not only clapped, they stood up. And Harvard's Armed Forces clubs are far and away more developed than those at other schools."

Joining private sector to public policy

Thanks to "generous financial aid" and a merit scholarship to the Harvard Kennedy School, Maura is pursuing the joint MBA/MPA degree. "HBS has changed my perspective on the good things the private sector can bring to society. I see tremendous potential for companies to make a favorable impact on the environment and in the global community." As an example, Maura cites her recent summer experience with the PepsiCo Leadership Program. "They're building a solar-powered plant for producing their SunChips," Maura says. "Pepsi's moving toward a hybrid truck fleet, and is taking the lead in clean water initiatives for their plants in India and other emerging countries."

In HBS classes, Maura says, "I learn far more than I could on my own. It's a great privilege to study in sections with high-caliber students who hold such diverse perspectives." The cases bring an urgent realism to the classroom. "You don't know which data really matter," says Maura. "That's great preparation for real-world decision making."

Leading the way

After completing her MBA/MPA, Maura wants to "serve in a general manager role, most likely in the private sector," she says. "I miss leading people, and want to take on a leadership role in operations."