16 Oct 2018

To Lead and Serve

J. Patrick Mulloy (MBA 1987) is putting 38 years' of experience in US Navy submarine operations and financial management to work in the private sector.


Joseph Patrick (“Joe”) Mulloy (MBA 1987) is a retired Vice Admiral with the US Navy. In this interview, he reflects on the connections between his HBS education and his leadership and management experiences during a long military career.

“My family's Irish––Irish Catholics––who came over in the 1880s to Boston. And my mother's family came in the 1920s. We're such a large family, it seemed like there was a lot of Navy. But in reality, it's probably about 5 percent of each generation: my grandfather, my father, my uncle, my boys.

“It's been a desire to give back to the country. Some of us stayed in five years. And some of us, like myself, stayed in 38. But I didn't pass my grandfather, who did 39 years in. My concept of service to the country really came from my grandfather and my father talking about their careers, but really their fundamental notion of respect for each other, human beings, and a love of America.

“How did HBS help me? I really think it was moving to the next level. I completed a very successful junior officer tour on a submarine. I was looking to expand my horizons, and I looked at the school and realized [that] if I stay in, the place will help me continue to grow as a human being, and if I got out, I'd have an opportunity in the economy to do well. So in reality, it really set me up well within the Navy. It gave you credibility when you came in a room in the Pentagon and you're talking finance with the Office of Secretary of Defense.

“But really, it gave me the thought process to lead well. On 9/11, I was in the Pentagon and the airplane came in directly underneath my spaces. Every ceiling tile came in. Smoke filled the spaces. There were 10 there. We all got out. I went back in to verify everyone's gone. I would say all my training, mostly on submarining, made me remain cool and calm. But my concept of leading people and being able to understand and reach out to others made me immediately contact those around in the area to get out, but then also reach back to contact all 120 people in our office in case some were in the Pentagon.

“Now that I'm retired, I'm looking at my future options. I still want to be involved in working with the country. Right now, I'm looking at a couple opportunities with two large defense contractors to be able to, once again, build quality products for the military. My wife and I will still continue to volunteer with the Submarine Veterans and other events. [But] I really haven't explored the full possibility. My wife and I are excited about that next level of opportunity to move on and give back.”

(Published October 2018)

Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 1987, Section E

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