“If the leader does not keep people focused on why we ‘can,’ people will naturally focus on why we ‘can’t.’ A leader must have some skin in the game of success to show they truly believe the team can achieve its goals.”Willie Sullivan 21MBA
As momentum around the fight for racial equity began rising last spring with the death of George Floyd, so did ideas of how Goizueta Business School could use its influence to make a difference. On February 18, MBA student Willie Sullivan was awarded the Leaders in Corporate Citizenship “Rising Star” Award by the Atlanta Business Chronicle for creating last month’s John R. Lewis Racial Justice Case Competition—the first such event to harness the imagination of MBA students to inspire companies to combat racial injustice.
“It was a shock, especially when I looked at the list of winners,” said Sullivan, whose award was presented virtually February 18. “It’s pretty humbling. Yes, this was my idea, but the execution was such a team effort, and my response to this award is all about highlighting how large an effort this takes. You can have an idea, but you have to motivate other people to believe in it. Doing that at Goizueta Business School has changed my trajectory in so many ways.”
According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s website, the 2021 Leaders in Corporate Citizenship Awards honors Atlantans who have “found the perfect intersection of social good and corporate success by integrating relevant societal concerns into their core operating strategies and embracing them as positive for businesses, customers, employees and the metro Atlanta community.” The 19 honorees included Woodruff Arts Center President and CEO Hala Moddelmog and Georgia Power President Christopher Womack.
In a Q&A with the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Sullivan explained how he motivates and inspires others to achieve big goals: “Optimism is key. If the leader does not keep people focused on why we ‘can,’ people will naturally focus on why we ‘can’t.’ A leader must have some skin in the game of success to show they truly believe the team can achieve its goals.”
Having a corporate social responsibility strategy requires more than simply setting goals, Sullivan added. “The creation of a strategy to achieve predetermined goals for addressing racial justice and equality is the exact premise of the John R. Lewis Racial Justice Case Competition,” he said.
In May, Sullivan will earn his MBA and join Deloitte. He was interning there in the human capital strategy department in summer 2020 when the idea of the case competition took root.
“Deloitte will give me more corporate experience,” Sullivan said of a goal he set while at Goizueta Business School. “I will say I’m very excited to be working on where I will be in five years. This experience with the case competition is expanding my mind about what is possible between racial justice and equality and business.”