John V. Sullivan (B.S. ’82) is executive vice president at global IT solutions provider Delta Group, ranked among KPMG Long Island’s 25 Fastest Growing Private Companies and the Deloitte & Touche Fast 50 list of Fastest Growing Technology Companies. Sullivan joined Delta in 1997 and has earned numerous IT awards and honors. He enjoys helping clients find the hardware and software solutions that address customer resource management, enterprise maintenance, and data security. Sullivan also co-authored In IT to Win It: Strategies for Winning in Business & Life and serves on the Brookhaven Hospital (N.Y.) board of directors.
Originally from Hempstead, N.Y., Sullivan attended New York Tech on a football scholarship. He played defensive end for the Bears under Head Coach Pete Pizzorelli and was named captain during his junior and senior years. “I was picked because my leadership skills were not about ‘rah rah’ but about leading by example,” says Sullivan. “When you’re playing football, you’re relying on other players, and they’re counting on you.”
Serving as team captain also helped Sullivan learn how to deal with different personalities and get them to work together as a team. “When you show someone there is a way to accomplish things that seem insurmountable, they see there’s no reason why they can’t do it,” says Sullivan. “That’s something I do now with my sales team.”
His pigskin days are among his fondest New York Tech memories. Once, when New York Tech played Northwestern State University in Louisiana, Sullivan lined up against four future NFL stars: linebacker Gary Reasons (New York Giants), wide receiver Mark Duper (Miami Dolphins), running back Joe Delaney (Kansas City Chiefs), and quarterback Bobby Hebert (St. Louis Saints). Even though the Bears lost 44-14, Sullivan scored a personal victory: “I got to sack Bobby Hebert!”
Sullivan notes how sales is enhanced by today’s communications technology. “People email all day and all night,” he says, “but that’s good because it makes it easier to satisfy customer questions.”
Sullivan strongly believes that face-to-face contact is key for a sales team to shine. “If you’re not in front of customers, belly to belly, it doesn’t work,” he says. “Customers want to see congruity. You need to let them talk.”
Taking advantage of social media is also crucial. “LinkedIn is huge right now,” says Sullivan. “It’s great to look up someone you want to do business with, then find you’re connected to the same people. People do business with people they like and trust.”
At the 2016 New York Tech Athletics Golf and Tennis Outing at the Muttontown Club in East Norwich, N.Y., Sullivan received the “Big Bear” Award for his legacy of giving to his alma mater. It’s not the first time he’s been recognized for his New York Tech contributions; in 1999, Sullivan was inducted into the New York Tech Athletics Hall of Fame for his football achievements (sacking Bobby Hebert ultimately paid off).
“Through New York Tech, I’ve been blessed to have a career and do well financially,” he says. “I’m happy to give back to places that were good to me so I can also make a difference.”