Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Thursday, July 23, 2015

O’Sullivan uses skills to help teams succeed

Katie O’Sullivan Katie O’Sullivan

With the La Follette School’s emphasis on clear communication, Katie O’Sullivan has parlayed her interest in data analysis into a career that spans the public and private sectors.

As PricewaterhouseCoopers’(PwC) Midwest region practice director, the 2000 alum develops and drives project initiatives that affect six Midwest markets and the region as a whole.

“One of the projects that I’m most proud of is that of co-leader of PwC’s annual planning process for markets and sectors,” O’Sullivan says. “This project expands my role beyond a regional capacity and allows me to not just be part of the budgeting process, but also part of our firm’s overall strategic planning efforts.”

O’Sullivan says she has always been very analytical and focused on data analysis. “At La Follette, I learned how to take those skills and apply them to the real world,” she says. “I started out wanting to work in the public sector to help shape policy to ultimately have a positive effect on people’s lives. When I started school, I was not sure how that goal would develop into a career.”

In addition to honing her data analysis skills, O’Sullivan learned how to share her findings with stakeholders. “La Follette's curriculum emphasized how to communicate with leaders in a clear and concise fashion,” she says. “We were challenged to analyze problems, identify solutions, and then present our findings in a way that allowed the leader to make decisions quickly. During school, I did not appreciate how much I would use this skill, but now I use it on a daily basis.”

After graduating, she became a Budget Analyst with the City of Milwaukee and then a Budget Manager with Chicago Public Schools. “From my first job out of graduate school, I’ve been involved with the budgets and strategic planning efforts of my organizations,” O’Sullivan says. “Every day, I’m able to build on the skills that were developed in school.”

From Chicago, O’Sullivan headed to the Twin Cities, joining PwC in 2006. “While I no longer work in the public sector, I continue to have the same goals as I did when I started school,” O’Sullivan says. “I’m still working on budgets and helping my teams succeed. What has changed is simply the organization for which I work.”

She and her husband live with their 6-year-old daughter in a suburb of Minneapolis. “We make sure to show our Badger pride in Gopher country and get back to Madison as often as we can,” O’Sullivan says.”

O’Sullivan also shares her skills with several area nonprofit organizations. “I am a steering committee member for the Greater Twin Cities United Way’s Women United,” she says “This group focuses on helping children succeed when they enter kindergarten and providing women with innovative career training to create pathways out of poverty. All of the money donated by the Women United members is distributed by this group to fund projects in support of these efforts. Volunteering has always been an integral part of my life.”