Alumni-nominated spotlight: Booz Allen Hamilton consultant Maura Deignan
As part of our ongoing Pass the Pen series, we feature management consultant Maura Deignan ’13 who shares her favorite GPS memories and why San Diego is the best place to start your career
Nov. 12, 2019 | By Rachel Hommel | GPS News
Maura Deignan has always had a passion for international relations from teaching English in Japan to her fellowship with the American India Foundation. She also worked as an international development consultant in Bhavnagar, India where she helped a grassroots nonprofit better tell their story of community impact. While at the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS) she solidified her passion for thinking globally, while seeking ways to act locally.
“Learning how the U.S government works from various policy classes has come in handy as most of my work is with federal agencies,” said Deignan, currently an associate at Booz Allen Hamilton. “GPS helped hone my critical thinking and analysis skills, taught me valuable business skills and how to write effectively. I apply all of that and more to my work as a consultant.”
A native of San Diego, Deignan loves keeping in touch with her diverse GPS family as both a former regional club president and active current board member.
“At GPS, we come from all walks of life but have so much in common – particularly our drive to make the world a better place,” said Deignan. “Helping alumni connect to each other and collaborate on projects is very rewarding! I also appreciate the opportunity to help shape how the school engages with alumni well after graduation.”
Read on as Deignan shares highlights of her career and why she will always choose Sunny San Diego.
Q: What has been a highlight of your career so far?
A: I started the first Design Thinking Community of Practice at the San Diego branch of my firm. Last year, I was asked to lead a workshop for about 30 junior and high school girls interested in STEM careers. The problem statement was “how might we address cyberbullying” and I was so impressed with the innovative and thoughtful solutions the girls developed. It gave me hope for our future workforce.
Q: Please share a favorite memory from your time at GPS.
A: There are too many to name! The activities hosted by the student regional clubs were usually the most memorable. Some that particularly stood out were LASO’s organized winery tours of Valle de Guadalupe, the Lunar New Year festival when professors Stephan Haggard and Barry Naughton battled it out in sumo suits, and one of the talent shows, in which regional club leaders dressed in our regional clothes and performed Gangnam Style.
Q: If you could go back to GPS as a professor or special guest lecturer, what would you like to teach?
A: I would teach two subjects. The first would be Human Centered Design—GPS does a lot of quantitative data analysis, but it’s also important to understand the human experience of what we study. I would also teach project management, since that is a much-needed professional skillset for any job.
Q: What did you learn at GPS that has been most useful in your career?
A: Learning how to write succinct policy memos in the foreign policy courses has been the most applicable tool from my GPS toolkit. Synthesizing large amounts of information into a well-organized format—even just for emails, makes decision making for teams and leaders much more efficient.
Q: What do you like to do to relax/on weekends?
A: I enjoy taking advantage of all the natural beauty San Diego has to offer, often with fellow alumni! There are wonderful hikes in the mountains, nearby desert and along the coast, and GPS folks are the most fun to enjoy them with!
Q: Please share a memorable travel experience you’d like to repeat.
A: When I was volunteering on the AIF Clinton Fellowship for Service in India, I had the opportunity to travel to various parts of the country. I particularly loved the majestic forts and palaces in Rajasthan, with sweeping views and rich architectural detail. I’d love to go back and explore more!
Q: What do you miss the most about your days in San Diego (or more specifically GPS)?
A: The main thing I miss about my days at GPS was seeing my friends every day. Luckily our alumni are a mobile bunch and like to travel, so I get to see many of them on various trips around the world! I’ve met up with classmates in Myanmar, Taiwan, Mexico and all across the U.S. GPS alumni friends are my favorite travel buddies.
Q: Who would you like to pass the pen to and why?
A: I nominate Alisha Tomita, MAS-IA ‘16. She is such a mover and shaker. I’m sure she has some amazing stories to share!
Read more stories on GPS alumni:
- Alumni-nominated spotlight: Alisha Tomita-Yu ’16 of Oracle
- Student group puts focus on China
- Decoding the Hong Kong protests – and more
- Is the MPP the right degree for me?
- Through knowledge we gain understanding
- Mapping a cleaner San Diego
- A day in the life of a NCAA Woman of the Year Honoree
- Nirupama Rao defines the future of Indo-Pacific relations
- Winter reading for the bibliophile
- Alumni-nominated spotlight: Booz Allen Hamilton consultant Maura Deignan
- Leading from the front
- Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies expands research on drug war and migrant crisis
- A marriage of policy and advocacy
- Decarbonizing the grid
- Sylff Fellows translate vision into reality
- Stanford study finds poor air quality responsible for one in five infant deaths in sub‑Saharan Africa
- Office hours: Associate Professor Jennifer Burney
- Class of 2018 graduates embody global citizenry and leadership
- Science Policy Fellows program nurtures effective interdisciplinary scholars
- Building cross-border relationships
- Geoengineering a greener future
- Sponsored Student Spotlight: Adnan Saygili
- Celebrating academic excellence
- Painting the picture of an MPP student’s day
- Gregory Lee looks at the future of digital health and technology
- A sustainable seafood hero
- Pass the pen: Alumnae nominated spotlight
- Campus recognizes alumni as leaders and changemakers
- Innovation in mobile technology
- Ian Johnson chronicles the rise of religion in China
- Writing the book on China’s economic policy
- Broadening horizons through international experience at BCG
- Office hours: Professor Gordon McCord
- New evening option for working professionals
- China's infrastructure investment as a development strategy
- Rethinking the war on drugs in Mexico
- Creating theoretical frameworks
- Nurturing future leaders at TechPolis
- The future is female
- Jamal Russell Black on Veridian Analytics' entrepreneurial spirit
- Love is in the air
- A day in the life of an MCEPA student
- Health and human capital
- Eduardo Porter finds journalistic inspiration at GPS
- Technology assessment at the nexus of STEM and policy
- IGCC receives coveted UC research grant
- Battery storage at the center of energy policy
- Researching how humans and the environment interact
- Office hours: Professor Ulrike Schaede
- Fighting wildfires with web based imagery
- United we dream
- Our 2017-2018 Boren Fellows
- Applying game theory to study behaviors
- Students craft views on climate change at COP23
- Molding future technical experts
- Why GPS: A niche in life
- The art of entrepreneurship
- Solar energy and pursuing the policy dream
- Social entrepreneur and first time author Ken Davenport ’90 of “The Two Gates”
- Why GPS: Discovering a passion for all things math
- Our 2017-18 Dean’s Fellows
- A Living, Learning Laboratory
- A ‘Prep Program’ for success, before day one
- Office hours: Professor Gordon Hanson
- Adding to a truly interdisciplinary academic environment
- Why GPS: Apply now and figure it out later
- Sponsored Student Spotlight: Noritoshi Kurokawa
- West Coast-Trained for a Washington, D.C. Think Tank
- Linked in Latin America
- Facilitating a ‘family affair’
- Nico Ravanilla retreats to Oxford for research
- 2016 alumni remember their first year in the real world
- Pioneering international excellence
- Research at the border: A living laboratory of transformation