After graduating from the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, Caitríona Taylor (Pardee ’02) took the time to explore her passions and discover her purpose in helping others through education — a path that led her to her current work as the CEO of Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts.
“Studying international relations, at a time when I was still exploring my own identity as an Irish immigrant living in the United States, helped me understand myself as an individual and as a global citizen,” Taylor said.
As a work-study student employee at the Boston University Physical Education, Recreation and Dance department, Taylor had the opportunity to develop collegiate recreation skills. After graduation, her first professional job was as a member of the recreation and athletic team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as Associate Aquatics Director. In this role, Taylor built an aquatics program from the ground up, working with domestic and international undergrad, graduate, staff and community members.
After two years, Taylor moved from MIT to Boston College as the Aquatics Manager, with the primary goal of working full-time while pursuing an MBA in Global Management. Teaching people and learning about management at a recreation complex by day, Taylor studied international business by night. She also had the opportunity to travel to China as part of a consulting team in 2008 which helped her land a position as Chief Operating Officer and eventually President at a start-up health and wellness equipment company called Kulae in 2010.
“After two years as President of Kulae, I realized selling retail products is not the same as teaching a person skills and tools they can use to improve their own health,” Taylor said. “Therefore, when the Director of Recreation opportunity arose at Boston College, having a direct positive impact on the health and wellness of an entire community would be fulfilling.”
At Boston College a second time, Taylor had the opportunity to build a 244,000 sq. ft. state of the art recreation complex, develop fundraising skills, champion diversity, inclusion, and equality efforts on campus, while also pursuing a Masters in Higher Education Student Affairs and a Certificate in International Higher Education.
“This blend of executive management, human development, and international education are skills I use every day as the CEO of Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts,” Taylor said. “As a member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, I now focus on girl leadership and empowerment at a local, national, and international level.”
Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts is the 10th largest Girl Scout council in the United States (out of 111), serving 30,000 girls and 15,000 volunteers. With the executive team, Taylor leads more than 100 full-time and 400 part-time staff who are all dedicated to advancing our mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Managing an operating budget in excess of $14 million and investment portfolio over $10 million, Taylor is the leader of a dynamic organization influencing the lives of girls, women, and families across the region.
“My motivation as the leader of this organization is to provide programs, support, and the safe space for girls and young women to be their true selves, develop their confidence, and lead the way in creating change in their communities and beyond,” Taylor said. “Working with our board and staff, I use a data-driven, results-oriented approach in our strategic planning and execution.”
Taylor says her Pardee School education helped her develop a sense of self that is integral to her current work as CEO of Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts.
“I worked, studied and lived with people from all over the country and world, and in the classroom I was learning how the world worked. As a CEO of an organization serving over 45,000 members, the lessons I learned as a student still hold true today,” Taylor said. “Having a global perspective helps me meet people where they are at, as I know I do not know everything about the world, but I have developed the skills to research topics, listen, and learn.”
According to Taylor, Pardee School courses the History of International Relations I and II influenced her as both a student and person.
“More than just a history lesson, I enjoyed this course because it outlined how interpersonal relationships are at the heart of how the world works, both positively and negatively,” Taylor said. “I have taken that into my work leading an organization, whether it is solving problems, setting a vision, or advancing our work.”
Taylor said she also enjoyed taking courses about International Political Economy because it explored the intersectionality of the three topic areas. She says she is better equipped to lead at Girl Scouts – with a focus of building girls of courage, character, and confidence, who make the world a better place – because she understands the multi-dimensional aspects of politics and business in a global environment.
Offering advice to current Pardee School students who are thinking about their next steps after graduation, Taylor emphasized the importance of taking the time to explore and follow your passions.
“I did not set out with the goal of becoming a CEO at the premier leadership development organization for girls in the world,” Taylor said. “I did set out with a curiosity of how the world works, a passion for health and wellness both personally and for helping others, and with a vision to change the world. Take the classes you are interested in because it will create the journey you are supposed to take. Stretch yourself and sign up for complimentary courses that are outside your comfort zone but add to your overall skill set. We grow through challenge and struggle, so lean into the pain, but pick a topic you love!”