By Becca Broaddus
Violet Sullivan “can find the pony in a pile of horse manure,” or so her mom says.
“I’ve always been optimistic,” she laughed as she explained the saying. “I was given an uplifting spirit, so I can uplift others. I like to bring positivity and purpose into work. No matter what job I’ve been through, I’ve always had a passion for working.”
It’s a good thing she loves it because Sullivan is a busy woman. Meetings, client calls, childbirth classes and business trips clutter her calendar. As she looked over her schedule, she admitted during particularly hectic weeks, she sends electronic calendar invites to her husband to ensure they spend quality time together.
“I find such purpose in work—in learning and achievement,” Sullivan said. “Even when I was waiting tables, interning or volunteering as a law clerk, I’ve always loved working. I never considered quitting when we decided to start our family. I want to be a great mom. A great wife. Those aren’t mutually exclusive.”
She works from home as a cybersecurity and privacy attorney, which means she helps companies prepare for data breaches from a legal, compliance and regulatory perspective. Sullivan regularly simulates breaches for clients, a fire drill of sorts, to prepare organizations to respond quickly and effectively to cyber incidents.
She credits her passion for learning (and a bit of luck) for her timely entrance into the cybersecurity industry. Just months after Sullivan entered the space, she worked on the response team for some of the largest and most notable data breaches involving Home Depot, Sony and Anthem. Since then, for better or worse, business is booming.
Prior to her move into the burgeoning industry, Sullivan worked as a criminal defense attorney and then as an oil and gas attorney in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She admitted the move from relying on her law degree to a more business-minded position in cybersecurity has been a welcome use of her MBA.
“[My job is] sometimes more operations-focused than legal-focused,” Sullivan, who graduated from the joint JD/MBA program, said. “Although I love the legal aspects of what I do, I find myself being drawn more to the business and technical side of the work.”
Starting a family isn’t slowing down Sullivan’s overachiever streak. In September, she began work as an adjunct professor for Baylor Law School. She teaches in the new online Master of Laws (LLM) program the law school launched this year. Sullivan’s course draws on her experience with corporate clients and cyber incidents to inform students on the relevance and necessity of cybersecurity within litigation management.
As a third generation Baylor Bear with three Baylor degrees and three siblings who also attended Baylor, Sullivan is thrilled to add teaching at her alma mater to her résumé and her family’s legacy.
“Baylor provided me with such a strong growth experience, and it’s been a fun environment to come back to,” she said. “I’ve only missed one Homecoming ever—that’s 31 years of Homecoming. My husband was told he was ‘baptized in Baylor’ at Homecoming last year, and our baby girl is definitely going to be wearing green and gold.”
And yes, Homecoming weekend is on her calendar. After all, her daughter can’t miss her first Baylor Homecoming. Busy or not.
Baylor Business Review, Fall 2018