Alumni Board of Governors member John Sullivan ‘89 has spent his career in international business developing relationships with people in more than 50 countries all around the world. Currently serving as vice president for Birkman, a human capital consulting company, his life has followed an unpredictable but rewarding path.
After graduating from Reinhardt while it was still a two-year college, Sullivan attended Kennesaw State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in international affairs/international business. He then accepted an opportunity to work in Shanghai for a year and a half, despite not speaking Chinese and knowing almost nothing about China. That decision kicked off his 20-year career.
Through all the traveling and scheduling difficulties that come with a life in international business, Sullivan says that the greatest challenge has been finding ways to stay close to the people he cares about, whether they’re at home or on the other side of the world.
“Despite the passage of time and the different directions of my life and those of my friends and family, I am proud to maintain close ties with these people in my life. Some of the best friends in my life have been and continue to be people I met at Reinhardt.”
At his current job, Sullivan helps employees of international companies learn about their skills and personality strengths to allow them to become more effective team members.
He wants students to know that life may not be predictable, but they should never give up.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was in school at Reinhardt, and I wasted a lot of time and effort trying to figure it out,” he said. “Stay with it. Never sell yourself short. You do not have to be an ‘A’ student to be successful. You don’t always have to have amazing talent to start out. Take chances. Take leaps of faith.”
In his spare time, Sullivan enjoys participating in Boy Scout activities with his sons, traveling to his wife’s home country of Brazil, and assisting with student move-in days at Reinhardt. He plans to continue his current career path until retirement, then become a professor or career coach so he can share his experience with others.