“The ability to think critically, communicate effectively, and apply a strong work ethic are really key skills when you’re thinking about a career in business.” – Susan Killilea Coburn ‘92 P24
Graduating from Holy Cross in 1992, Susan Coburn recently took the time to reflect on her years before, during, and after her time on the Hill. Due to her initial interest in law and history, she was drawn to the College because it checked all of her boxes, including being a strong liberal arts school, allowing her to major in History and minor in Spanish while also exploring a wide range of subject matter. She is very appreciative of the holistic education Holy Cross provides for students as well as the strong foundation on how to think critically and communicate effectively–two skills that will go a long way in the business world. Susan appreciates the strong alumni network the College has, helping her easily stay in touch with her classmates to this day. She found that the College’s social justice mission has greatly impacted her life and allowed her to gain new perspectives on pressing issues in the world today. Her husband Ed Coburn ‘93 is a JVC alum and an attorney practicing municipal law. She stays in contact with her HC friends, most recently through a group started by her classmates in the Class of ‘92, which acts as a grassroots anti-racism alliance.The group now has over 90 members and focuses on dialogue, understanding and action. She and Ed have two daughters, with their eldest now attending Holy Cross in the Class of 2024.
“I was at Holy Cross for four years, which was an amazing experience, but I would say my connection with Holy Cross since then has been far richer.”
During her time at Holy Cross, Susan most enjoyed her Spanish literature and Russian history courses, studying in the stacks of Dinand, relishing the sense of community in Kimball with her friends, and spending valuable time abroad in Salamanca, Spain. Studying abroad allowed her to view the world with a unique lens as she witnessed world events while living outside of the United States.
After spending a few years in Washington D.C. working with a political consulting group, Susan shifted her interests toward communications and working with companies in the consumer and consumer technology industries. It was there that she found her niche in telling stories in an effective manner. She soon became fascinated with looking at how different companies function, ultimately finding her true calling in the financial services industry. Susan credits her mother with spurring her interest in the financial services industry. She notes, “…my mom had always been the person to manage the money in our family, she was always good with budgeting, saving, and investing, so working for a financial services company wasn’t intimidating to me.”
Now, Susan has been with Fidelity Investments for 17 years and works as the Head of Enterprise External Communications. She has been thrilled with the way Fidelity focuses on the well-being of their employees, the opportunities she has had to move around in the company, and the growth she has experienced both personally and professionally. Her favorite thing about her career now is that every day brings a new challenge and it doesn’t really feel like work since she loves each and every minute of it– two things that confirm she has found the right career at the right company.
Given her experiences across a number of industries, Susan was able to provide some great points of advice for Holy Cross students preparing to start their careers- whether it be in financial services, technology, or any other field:
- Follow your curiosity. Don’t expect to find that perfect job right off the bat. Take the time to rule things out and then explore anything that piques your curiosity.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment. It’s okay to be interested in one career path at first and completely shift gears at a later point as Susan did, moving from consumer tech to the financial services industry. There are so many roles in business that range from marketing to finance to strategic analysis to communications and more.
- Be authentic. You can be yourself. The business world today is great for people who have a genuine interest in something, are ready to jump into a company, learn, and contribute.
The Ciocca Center is very grateful to Susan for her valuable insights and advice, and for allowing us to highlight her interesting and impressive professional career path! Thanks to JP Cunningham ’23 for his time researching and coordinating this interview.