Shawn Mulligan, pictured above, is the operational president for Robert Half’s Eastern U.S. operations. The original version of this article was published in Half Times, the digital magazine for Robert Half employees.
Whether playing point guard on his New York state champion high school basketball team, or coaching youth teams over the past 20 years, sports and coaching have always been important parts of Shawn Mulligan’s life — and greatly shaped the ethos that has helped Shawn build a successful career at Robert Half.
In Shawn’s 28 years at our company, he has had countless opportunities to coach candidates, clients and internal Robert Half employees. But Shawn says the element of his career he loves the most is partnering with people.
Shawn joined the company in 1994 as a division director for New York and New Jersey and quickly climbed the ranks, taking on branch director and regional director roles. In 2001, he was promoted to district president, overseeing operations in New York and New Jersey. Shawn expanded his area of responsibility again in 2008, becoming a senior district president. In 2018, he accepted his current role as an operational president.
Shawn says his teams’ successes over the years, coupled with his partnering ability, have been the fuel that continues to drive him each day. “Twenty-eight years later, I still feel the same way,” he says. “I still have a book of clients and candidates that I continue to add to. I’ve always kept my hand in it. I’ve been lucky to help get many people jobs at Robert Half and other companies over the years. Being involved at the ground level, I still enjoy it. Knock on wood, I will for many years to come.”
Learning to get back up, no matter what
Shawn believes that the toughest times bring out the best in people. It’s been a truism in his life, which was marked by the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. He lost several friends and colleagues when the buildings collapsed in lower Manhattan that morning. As rescue workers sorted through the rubble of the twin towers, Shawn said he had to stay focused on the task at hand while consoling employees, friends and relatives — and dealing with his own 9/11 challenges.
“It was one of the tougher moments I went through,” he recalls. “I was the regional manager for the Trade Center back on 9/11. The company’s eyes were on New York. The world’s eyes were on New York. I dug in and found a way to show resilience and strength. We had over 25 people working in the Trade Center, and I was making calls to ask people if they made it out OK. Thankfully, everybody did.”
He continues, “From that experience, I learned that you can get knocked down, but no matter what — you can get back up. As a team, we came together and found a way to build it back.”
More recently, Shawn's work during the COVID-19 pandemic again illustrated that resiliency is part of his core. “Tapping on 25-plus years of experience, it’s easy to fall back on a ‘been there, done that’ attitude,” he says. “But leaders show their mettle not when it’s good, but when it’s bad. I’m just a person who, the crazier it gets, the calmer I get.”
Finding parallels between competitive sports and work
In addition to his 28-year career with Robert Half, Shawn remains committed to helping his community. He is the president and a board member of the Sea Girt Educational Foundation. (The Borough of Sea Girt in New Jersey is where Shawn resides with his wife and three sons.) For 20-plus years, Shawn was president and a coach in the South Monmouth Basketball League. He is also a former president of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Monmouth County.
Additionally, Shawn is a key supporter of Robert Half’s annual Suit Drive, a 20-year annual initiative that helps job seekers in need look and feel their best during interviews.
Shawn is a proud graduate of the class of 1985 and holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Marist College. In his downtime, Shawn remains committed to fitness. He’s at the gym doing strength training at 5 a.m. and then heads to the boardwalk for cardio six days a week. It’s a time of day when he can clear his head. “It’s my peaceful time before the day gets going,” he says.
During the rest of his working day, Shawn is known for his outgoing personality and loves partnering with people. “Teamwork and leadership came naturally to me because of my competitive sports background,” he says. “There are a lot of parallels. We compete against other companies, and at Robert Half, we have a 110% commitment to being the best. I’ve enjoyed my years at Robert Half, and I look forward to the future of our company.”
Follow Shawn Mulligan on LinkedIn.