Faculty Biography

Will O'Brien

Professor of Practice
J.D,. Suffolk University Law School
M.B.A., State University of Albany, Albany, NY

Practice Areas

Law, Management Consulting,  Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development

Teaching Courses

Business Ethics and Law
Corporate Social Responsibility
Sustainability Consulting Projects

Key Publications/Presentations

“Interdisciplinary Education for Sustainable Development: The Harvard Global Development Practice (GDP) Model” -  Hadiza Hamma, JD, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Abuja University; Thomas Gloria, PhD, Director Sustainability and Global Development Practice Programs, Harvard University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Division of Continuing Education; Will O’Brien, JD, Field Study Capstone Advisor, Harvard University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Division of Continuing Education.  Paper presented at the International Conference on Sustainable Development (September 2020).

“Higher Education and Sustainability: Opportunities and Challenges for Achieving Sustainable Development Goals” - Bui, K. & O’Brien, W., “Sustainability in Higher Education: Implementation in Bulgaria”, book chapter. Editors: Ulisses M. Azeiteiro, J. Paulo Davim, International Journal of Higher Education and Sustainability. (August 2019).

Professional & Academic Experience

Will is an experienced global business executive, change agent, entrepreneur, consultant, educator and retired attorney. He is committed to developing current and future leaders to create shared value, reduce operating costs and environmental impact. Currently, his focus is on the integration of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into the School of Management’s curriculum, research and community outreach.

He has 50 years experience in starting businesses, creating new organizations and managing P&L responsibility for global operations resulting in consistently high financial performance. Professional experience includes marketing management for computer systems and services, technical support, project management, supply chain management for multi-vendor service delivery, management consulting and a small law practice. Much of his career has been in leadership positions for worldwide organizations addressing strategic issues and advising executives from global companies in various industries.

After completing service as a U.S. Naval Officer in Viet Nam in 1968, Will spent a year traveling around the world.  At Honeywell Information Systems, he managed Finance & Administration at a large field sales office. In 1972, Will joined Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), now part of Hewlett-Packard, and worked for the company for 25 years in various management and executive positions. He left DEC, 1978-80, to work as Director of Customer Service for Data Printer. Returning to DEC in 1980, he managed a mini-computer systems business for the Laboratory Data Product Line and achieved aggressive growth goals. From 1985-90, Will was responsible for worldwide marketing operations for DEC’s Services Division (revenue = $2.6B) as a member of the Division’s executive team.  In the early 90s, he established DEC’s Marketing University for the corporation focused on development and education of 3,000 marketing professionals worldwide. Subsequently, he led the rebuilding of DEC’s Worldwide Sales and Partner Training organization.

Upon retiring from DEC, Will worked as a consultant for Kana, Inc. responsible for helping large national and global corporations implement Internet technologies to improve customer responsiveness, reduce costs and increase productivity of their service operations. Since 2002, Will has been the vice president/treasurer for Nautilus Decisions, Inc., a small management consulting firm, with clients such as Avon, Campbell Soup, Gillette, LL Bean, TJX and Welch’s. Academic institution clients have included American University in Bulgaria, Norwegian University of Science and Technology as well as Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Will began his career in education in 2002 as an adjunct faculty member at Bentley University McCallum Graduate School of Business.  He has also lectured/taught at  American University in Bulgaria, Peking University College of Environmental Science, Harvard University Division of Continuing Education, Johns Hopkins University Environmental Studies Department, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Viet Nam National University for Benedictine University Asia Institute, Suffolk University Sawyer Business School, Varna Free University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute Foisie Business School.

After teaching management courses for five years, Will turned his focus to environmental sustainability and social responsibility. In 2007, he created an experiential learning course focused on sustainability consulting and later one on corporate social responsibility. The courses require students to secure client projects and prepare actionable plans for businesses, non-profits, and communities worldwide. Through both courses, students have created and delivered plans to over 420 organizations in support of community as well as sustainable development.  Will is directly involved in planning a community development project addressing poverty alleviation in Nigeria and also a reading glass donation program, through the Stow Lions, for people in Malawi.

At Clark, Will has chaired the Principles of Responsible Education (PRME) Committee for several years and is currently a member of  the Board of Trustees - Community Affairs and Social Responsibility Committee.

Since the mid-70s, Will has been a contributor to and served in leadership roles for his local community and church; e.g., Director of Religious Education, President, Stow Community Chest, Other service activities have included Board of Directors, Sustainable Business Network of Greater Boston, Director, Worcester Sustainable Business Leader Program, Chair, Board of Advisors, WPI Center for Sustainability in Business, President, Board of Directors, Illampu Sustainability Epicenter.

Will and Kathleen have been married for over 50 years. They have three children and eight grandchildren and live in Stow, MA.