When she was a young girl, Sheryl Mulder Bunton ’86 saw a lot of the Calvin campus.
“My grandfather was in charge of the landscaping on the Knollcrest campus,” Bunton said. “As a child I recall visiting the [Knollcrest] Festival with my grandmother.”
Yet when she decided on Calvin as her college, Bunton didn’t live on campus. She financed her education on a “pay-as-you-go” schedule each month and worked full-time through graduation. She credits that experience to establishing a strong work ethic.
Bunton began as a psychology major but was drawn to leadership and decision-making through a variety of courses and professors.
“I took an interim course titled ‘Women in Church History,’ which unleashed many possibilities in my mind. Professor [Richard] Mouw’s ethics course was probably the seis-mic class of my college career. The concept of ‘servant leadership’ and how servant leaders think about doing the right thing inspired me,” she said.
She graduated with a business-psychology group major and landed a job at an equipment leasing company. That business was bought by AT&T, where Bunton gradually took on more responsibilities. By the age of 30, she was a senior vice president running the industrial finance division.
Then, life intervened.
“I took time off to raise my children,” she said, “two daughters and a son. My son, Alex, was severely handicapped, and I knew he wouldn’t live into adulthood. There were seven years during which I was his primary caregiver—years I would have otherwise never taken out of the career track. I did not want to miss this time with him.”
Alex passed away at the age of 19.
Bunton went back to work and represented three companies. She became, as she puts it, “an accidental CIO [chief information officer].” Since then she has led teams in the U.S., Europe, China, India and South America.
A little over a year ago, Bunton was hired by Gulfstream Aerospace Corp., the world’s premier business manufacturer of business jets, to be a vice president and chief information officer based in its headquarters in Savannah, Georgia.
“This job is the fit of my life,” she said. “I am thrilled to be a part of it. Every day I see our planes fly by my window. They are extraordinary works of art.”
Bunton leads 700 Gulfstream employees and is in charge of all technology platforms and applications—supporting “all that lies beneath the company.”
“What I love is the Rubik’s Cube nature of IT [information technology]. It is an interesting challenge: move one piece and all are affected,” she said.
Reflecting on her work, Bunton cited two aspects that she has come to acknowledge over and over again.
“I am most proud of developing, coaching and helping other people,” she said. “I love to mentor others, build great teams and develop collaborative ways of working. I’m convinced this comes from directly from Christianity—not doing life alone and relying on others. I like to build constructs that reward collaboration; when the team wins, everyone wins.”
Bunton also adds a central, but sometimes overlooked business theme.
“Reality trumps intent,” she stated. “You have to execute well; you have to do a good job, every day.”
Her faith has been a mainstay throughout her life—in her family and in her business experiences.
She homeschooled her children for six years and taught them the Heidelberg Catechism as part of their education.
“There is value in suffering and struggle,” she said. “And is it important to value every person as a child of God. We have been and are continually transformed by God, and it is our call to be a transforming presence in the lives of others.”