“Halfway through the program I got an offer to work for the government at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), funding high-risk, high-pay-off technologies. The credential of the EMTM program certainly helped me get that opportunity.”
Victor McCrary, PhD, EMTM’95
Business Area Executive for Science and Technology
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Victor McCrary, PhD, EMTM’95
With a PhD in physical chemistry from Howard University, Vic began working for AT&T Bell Laboratories as a technical staff member and project manager charged with transferring technologies from the laboratory to the factory. Around that time, Vic, along with members of company management, recognized that a paradigm shift was needed to manage the onrush of new technologies in the dynamic and ever-changing field of telecommunications. “At that time, the company was promoting a lot of technical people from within to senior executive positions, but this approach was not working in the sense that we needed people who had both technical and business acumen.” With the goal of advancing toward an executive level position and the support of AT&T, Vic enrolled in EMTM to bolster his scientific and technical expertise with a management foundation.
EMTM was a relatively new program when Vic enrolled, but as a self-described “visionary and troublemaker” who welcomes new challenges, he had no problem being an early adopter. “The hybrid nature of the curriculum and the fact that Penn and Wharton were two top schools attracted me right away. I also really liked the program’s cocoon-like structure. They give you everything a place to sleep, meals, an academic environment and just immerse you in the work for those weekends on campus.” Penn’s proximity to his home in New Jersey was also a factor in Vic’s decision.
Within months Vic saw EMTM’s impact on his career. “Halfway through the program I got an offer to work for the government at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), funding high-risk, high-pay-off technologies. The credential of the EMTM program certainly helped me get that opportunity.”
At NIST, Vic worked on prototypes and standards for electronic books. He advanced from program manager to group leader to division chief within eight years, before leaving to join Johns Hopkins five years ago. His current role at Johns Hopkins requires overseeing internal research in national security, homeland defense and space exploration, while working with outside agencies to promote innovative ideas and secure funding. He credits EMTM’s marketing and organizational behavior courses with helping him learn how to build and sustain an innovation environment at both NIST and Johns Hopkins.
“In Organizational Behavior, I learned how to break down divisional barriers and create more value and ‘stickiness’ for customers. We also examined case studies of companies like General Electric, how to develop an organization with a consistent level of innovation. I was able to bring these lessons back to the public academic sectors.”
The program’s emphasis on group dynamics provided Vic with an informal education on the importance of teamwork. “Thirty years ago you could be a scientist locked away in your laboratory; now you need to build a collaborative team to get things done. You need to have people skills, you need to communicate your ideas. New types of innovation require both left and right brain thinking. It’s not enough to have the deterministic approach many scientists have two plus two equals four you also have to understand the culture of your organization and know how to put together a strategic plan.”
EMTM’s leadership curriculum gave Vic the tools to lead, not only at Johns Hopkins but also as president of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers, where he works to encourage and promote minority involvement in the sciences and technical fields. Today, he returns to campus once a year to share some of his leadership experience and lecture EMTM students on workplace politics, networking and strategies for career advancement. “It has been great to engage with students and see the program evolve as technology has evolved. For me, EMTM was a great experience and it was definitely the right choice for my career.”