Thursday, June 9, 2016

Interview with Retired Rear Admiral Doug McAneny

With so many organizations looking for opportunities to hire veterans, I thought it would be helpful to hear from a senior leader in private enterprise who came from a military career to better understand his perspective on it. Doug McAneny retired from the Navy as a Rear Admiral after decades of experience in the Submarine Forces. He is now a senior leader at HDR which is a global employee-owned firm providing architecture, engineering, consulting, construction and related services through various operating companies. Welcome Doug!
JS: First I want to thank you for your military service. You have an impressive career, what was the most important leadership lesson you learned?
DM: This is a great question and one I am frequently asked.  For me it is easy---trust your instincts.  Experience is a great teacher and provides a foundation for future success.  As one accumulates experience it is important to reflect and take aboard important lessons both good and bad which can be used to guide future decisions.  There is one important caveat to this rule though---while instincts are important, one should be willing to admit they aren’t always right.  In other words, trust your instincts but don’t rely on them completely because they can be wrong too.
JS: Makes sense. And I assume that means leaders need to have the humility to admit that when they are. As I write about, the best path to humility is emotional intelligence. What are some of the EQ skills (self-awareness, empathy, self-control, motivation, flexibility) that helped you the most as you transitioned to the private sector?
DM: Retired military officers have a well-deserved reputation for being dogmatic and inflexible.  As I transitioned to the next chapter of my career I tried to keep this in mind and worked to make sure I didn’t contribute to this notion.  The company I joined has a reputation built over nearly one hundred years of doing things right to make great things possible.   We listen to our clients and then do our absolute best to deliver on their expectations.  This focus from the outset made it easy for me to understand where I might best make a contribution to my company.  While I have had much to learn about the industry our promise has eased the transition.
JS: In your opinion, what can young leaders focus on that will give them the greatest advantage in the workplace or the military?
DM: Stay confident in your abilities and do the absolute best job you can with the job you have.  If you stay true to this principle then you will achieve the success you are looking for. 

Rear Admiral Douglas J. McAneny, USN (Ret.) serves as HDR, Inc.’s Federal Business Group Director.  He is based in HDR’s downtown Washington, D.C. office, and is responsible for guiding and growing HDR’s federal government business practice across all HDR operating companies. He serves on both the architecture and engineering company executive teams and is the Chief Executive Officer of HDR Environmental Operations and Construction (EOC). 

McAneny entered the Navy in May 1978 after completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering as a member of the University of Nebraska NROTC program.  He qualified in submarines in May 1981.   He also holds a Master of Arts degree in economics from the University of Oklahoma.  McAneny has extensive command experience having served in a variety of operational assignments.  His final at sea assignment was as Commander Submarine Forces Pacific.  In this role McAneny was responsible for attack and strategic ballistic missile submarines which operated from the west coast of the United States to the Suez Canal conducting a broad array of missions in support of critical national security objectives.

HDR is a global employee-owned firm providing architecture, engineering, consulting, construction and related services through our various operating companies. Our more than 9,000 professionals are committed to helping clients manage complex projects and make sound decisions. Learn more at

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