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Darla Moore School of Business

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U.S. Army veteran, Professional MBA alumna hired as chief financial officer

Professional MBA alumna Caroline O’Sullivan (’18 MBA) merged her business and military skills to become a chief financial officer for regional petroleum distribution company Dearybury Oil & Gas Company.

After graduating in 2008 from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, O’Sullivan was commissioned as an engineer officer with the U.S. Army. She was later deployed to Afghanistan, where she took on several roles within engineering operations. She transitioned out of active duty, joined the South Carolina National Guard and has continued working within engineer units. She is currently the operations officer for a unit based in Edgefield, South Carolina.

An economics major at West Point, O’Sullivan decided she wanted a career in finance as she was transitioning out of Army active duty.

“Once I decided that I wanted a career in finance, my goal was to become a CFO of a small company,” she said. “I was not sure what the correct path was to attain a position of this type, but I knew that by getting my MBA, I would learn many of the skills needed to achieve this goal.”

O’Sullivan chose the Moore School’s Professional MBA program because she didn’t want to lose momentum in her career and appreciated the flexibility of the program.

She began working as a controller for multinational tire manufacturer Michelin around the time she began the MBA program and said she immediately was able to apply lessons she was learning in her coursework.

“I ultimately transitioned to two other controller positions with Michelin and was able to pick my concentration and courses based on what I thought would be most relevant for my development,” O’Sullivan said. “I enjoyed being able to take classes in person or online and could choose the class based on the days that it was available. I also liked being able to take courses that met at the Moore School in Columbia on the weekends as well.”

O’Sullivan said she daily applies what she learned in courses Financial and Managerial Accounting and Financing Statement Analysis.

She continued working for Michelin until she was hired as Dearybury’s CFO in fall 2020.

“I believe that the military helped me develop my leadership and decision-making skills, while my MBA provided me with the financial acumen and problem-solving skills needed to be successful,” she said.

While she’s already achieved her goal to become a chief financial officer, O’Sullivan also intends to progress within the National Guard ranks.

“My goals are to become an engineer battalion commander and potentially an engineer brigade commander,“ she said. “There are only two engineer battalions in South Carolina and one engineer brigade. Becoming one of the higher-ranking engineer officers in the state while also having a full-time job would be a great accomplishment. The fact that I am a woman would add to my sense of success.”

As an Army veteran and current National Guard operations officer, O’Sullivan recommends other military servicemembers and veterans who want to obtain their MBA consider the Professional MBA program.

The Moore School provides the flexibility servicemembers or veterans need while working full time, and the knowledge and skills that MBA alumni can gain will help them reach whatever their goals may be, she said.

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