University of Pittsburgh

PhD Student Emily Bulger Promoted in the United States Air Force

Thursday, September 10, 2015

This summer, a group of family members, friends, and faculty of the University of Pittsburgh Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business gathered to celebrate the promotion of Emily Bulger, MBA ’06 and current PhD student, to the rank of Major in the United States Air Force.

Emily Bulger

Bulger is known for her outstanding organizational skills and ability to motivate herself as well as those around her. Her academic and professional career exemplifies experience-based learning.

Initially, Bulger was attracted to the Air Force Academy for the fully assisted tuition benefits and the opportunity to begin a different path from what her peers chose after graduating from Bishop Carroll Catholic High School in Wichita, Kan.  

She accepted an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy Class of 2005, where she majored in management with a minor in Spanish. She excelled academically, militarily, and physically, serving in cadet military leadership, playing on the volleyball team, and graduating with distinction. 

“I’m a big believer in the notion that it’s okay to not always know what or why you’re doing something when you first start a job. As long as you understand your responsibilities and work hard, you can still contribute and will eventually take on a deeper role for the organization,” Bulger said. 

Following her excellent performance in the management department, she began pursuing her MBA from Katz. 

“Katz not only has a good reputation for their business program but also for working with the military. It’s a great school with amazing faculty and staff who are always supportive and willing to work with me on some of the government’s red-tape processes.”  

After earning her MBA from Katz in 2006, Bulger served for three years as Financial Services Officer and Comptroller in the 470th Air Base Squadron at Geilenkirchen NATO Air Base, Germany. 

While at Geilenkirchen, Bulger was promoted to First Lieutenant and then Captain. She also received several squadron and base-level awards, and was lauded by her Squadron Commander as the top Company Grade officer under his command. 

Bulger credits her aptitude in collaborative leadership to the intensive program at Katz.  

“I often find myself working in groups, meetings, and teams, trying to solve problems or execute a given task. The skills I learned working with my peers in the MBA program have been very useful this far. I have learned how to bring a team together and work with competing schedules, ideas, cultures, and levels of motivation to get the job done.” 

In 2009, Bulger returned to the United States Air Force Academy as an Instructor in the management department, where she taught managerial and financial accounting, and a course in personal investments. She also served as an advisor in charge of the management major and executive officer to the management department head.

In 2013, she was deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, serving as Officer in Charge of Special Operations Command Central, Forward Headquarters J8. Her work led to promotion recommendations from her headquarters chief of staff, as well as the commander of Special Operations Command Central. 

Bulger is currently working to earn her PhD in Strategic Policy and Planning. The focus of her research is how organizations can stabilize change to their value chain activities while trying to be more sustainable and socially responsible.  

“Working with Emily has been both fun and rewarding,” said John Prescott, Thomas O’Brien Chair of Strategy and director of the Organization and Entrepreneurship area at Katz. “She is bright, hard-working, and inquisitive and has a great sense of humor. Her research is producing novel insights into how firms retain and benefit from new business practices.”

So what advice does Bulger have for the incoming MBA students? 

“Make the most of your time and get to know everyone. You’ll be amazed at how much more you can accomplish.”