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“UVA and the School of Continuing and Professional Studies are very special for their continued support of veterans,” notes John McCarthy, who served as a naval officer on active duty for more than six years and, after 9/11, as a naval reserve officer on active duty for an additional eight years. “I’m proud to be part of an organization that recognizes veterans and the sacrifices they have made,” he says.
Students in his courses—he teaches in the School’s graduate certificate programs in leadership, human resources management, and procurement and contracts management—are fortunate to encounter a teacher of his caliber and range of experience. McCarthy was recruited in 2006 by the Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division and was subsequently mobilized as a reserve naval officer to initiate infrastructure and organizational development for the newly established Technical Support Detachment (TSD). The TSD specialized in investigating, exploiting, and attacking the IED manufacturing network during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Essentially we were the CSI of IEDs,” he says. “Our role was to perform technical and forensic exploitation and try to determine from that information where the bomb-makers were located, what their network was like, and how to best attack that network.” McCarthy is currently a GS civilian, working to take the capabilities of the unit to the next level.
In launching what was in effect a military start-up, McCarthy brought to bear skills he gained from his experience in private industry; things like problem-solving techniques, situational leadership styles, and value stream analysis. During a 16-year period, he held a leadership position supporting business and financial operations at a nonprofit healthcare organization and was a technical business development executive for a global specialty chemical manufacturer serving the industrial sector.
Not surprisingly as a faculty member, McCarthy relishes a challenge. He teaches his Communications and Team Development course online, which though more difficult than in a face-to-face setting, has the advantage for him of highlighting the barriers to team communication. “One of the lessons of the course is that team members must be deliberate in their communications patterns and cognizant of people on the other side of the conversation,” he says. “Working with other student team members online only reinforces this lesson.”
But despite his vast experience, McCarthy is not done learning. He looks forward to teaching because he is exposed to the perspectives and experiences that his students bring to class. “Many of the students have very important responsibilities in their organizations and bring with them experiences gained over their careers,” he says. “I gain as much from them as they probably gain from me.”