When Terry O’Halloran came home from Vietnam, he was advised not to wear his Marine uniform in the airport. But he did, and protesters of the unpopular war threw trash at him. “Although 1966 wasn’t a good time to be in the military, not a day goes by that I don’t remember the lessons I learned in the Marines,” he said.
O’Halloran, a U.S. Marine veteran and a University of Dallas alumnus, along with four other current and former military service men and women, spoke on October 22, 2015, to a group of University of Dallas students about the importance of service over self, whether that service be in the armed forces or in one’s community.
O’Halloran, Vice President and General Manager at Johnson Controls, went on to say that his Marine experience helped him weather the changes that come with the many mergers and acquisitions that characterize the corporate world.
Patrick Law, Senior Vice President of U.S. Bank and the Chief Operating Officer of Elan Bank and UD alumnus, said that his military experience taught him to take initiative. “The world needs people who can look at a situation and take action,” said Law, a U.S. Army veteran of the first Gulf War.
Esther Gomez, a Marine reservist and Catholic Youth Minister agreed. “Preparing to be an officer taught me to handle pressure. I can look at problem, quickly make a decision, and get results,” she said. Gomez is a graduate student working on a master’s degree in pastoral ministry at UD.
“One of the most important things I took away from the Marines was a respect for diversity,” said Michael Hilden, a Principal Engineer at Verizon, a former U.S. Marine, and a University of Dallas alumnus. “In the Marines, I learned to respect and understand other cultures and other people’s ideas. This gave me a global mindset and helped me keep an open mind and listen to others’ ideas,” he said.
Bo Glavan, Chief Staff Officer of the Navy Fleet Logistics Support Wing in Fort Worth, said that his 10 moves in 19 years taught him to adapt to new situations. “My family and I have a process,” he said. “We move to a new place, I learn my new job, we get situated as a family, and then we look for ways to give back.”
Members of the panel emphasized humility as one of the characteristics crucial to career and life success. “You have to find ways to challenge yourself,” said Law. “By learning from everyone you meet, you can stretch yourself, stretch your boundaries, and do things you didn’t think you were capable of.”
Hilden agreed. “People respect leaders who are transparent—the ones who are on the front lines with them and supporting them.”
When the panelists were asked what characteristic they would look for in potential employees, authenticity was at the top of the list. “Everyone needs a mentor,” said Glavan, “but you have to make sure you are being authentic to who you actually are. Communicate what you are passionate about and that will come across as authenticity.”
The take-home message of the evening was that service lies at the heart of a successful career and a fulfilling personal life. “Find a grass roots, pure of heart organization that you are passionate about,” said Glavan, “and give them your time and treasure.”
Terry Halloran couldn’t agree more. Perhaps because he remembers what it felt like to be persecuted because of his uniform, he volunteers for the USO at DFW Airport, welcoming soldiers on the way home for leave. “Sometimes we play cards, sometimes they just want to talk,” he said. “We just want to be there for them.” In or out of uniform, that’s honorable service—and another one he can be proud of.
For more information on events sponsored by the University of Dallas Office of Personal Career Development, click here.