McDonough School of Business
News Story

Deep Leadership

Bu Michael Blanding
Photo by Harry Giglio

For three years, when Brian Linville (MSF’17) needed to report to work, he rolled out of his bunk and headed down to the bridge or engine room of a nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine.

“For stretches of time, we had no contact with anyone else,” says Linville, who served as an officer on the USS Springfield. “It was just 130 of us in the middle of the ocean, with a nuclear power plant a few yards away.”

As a freshly minted graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, Linville began with little practical experience in management and leadership, despite being in charge of dozens of fellow sailors. “The day you show up as a junior officer, only five people have positional authority over you,” he says. “It was intimidating.”

Managing his men in such tight quarters, Linville learned to practice what the military calls “intrusive leadership,” in which a leader proactively gets to know his or her sailors, including understanding their family life, social relationships, and other potential stressors. Linville prided himself on learning how to advise his sailors on their education and career goals alongside the logistics of operating the submarine. The trust this approach engendered made it easier for him to diffuse conflicts when they inevitably arose in such a tight space or when sailors were granted shore leave at a foreign port. “After being cooped up for weeks or months at a time, trying to keep people out of trouble could be a challenge,” he says.

“The day you show up as a junior officer, only five people have positional authority over you. It was intimidating.”
— Brian Linville (MSF’17)

During his time at sea, Linville spent time patrolling the Atlantic and Indian oceans and the Mediterranean Sea, and participating in military simulations — which he describes as akin to a “very interactive video game with expensive ships and subs.” When he decided to leave the Navy for the private sector, he had a firm grounding in management and leadership but not so much on the finance side of business.

Georgetown McDonough’s Master of Science in Finance (MSF) program was a perfect fit, giving him skills in firm valuation and financial performance metrics that he now employs at McKinsey & Co. where he works as a health care consultant focused on turnaround efforts.

Because the MSF program was online, it allowed him to stay with his wife in Tennessee and communicate seamlessly with his Georgetown instructors. “Every time I reached out to a professor, there was an almost instantaneous response to clarify a concept or draw further insight on an idea,” he says.

As Linville continues to incorporate the skills learned from the MSF program in his work at McKinsey, he’s also contemplating the pursuit of an MBA or transitioning to work in a hedge fund or private equity fund in the future. In the meantime, Linville stays active in the Navy Reserve.


Published in Georgetown Business Magazine, Spring 2018

Georgetown Business Magazine
M.S. in Finance