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Naval Academy Engineers Turned Entrepreneurs

By Valerie Anderson

Name: Carl H. Sharperson. Jr.

Carl H. Sharperson. Jr.
Company: Sharperson’s Executive Leadership
Job Title: President & CEO
Education & University: BS in Engineering, U.S. Naval Academy

Carl Sharperson attended the Naval Academy where he received his bachelor’s degree in engineering and was commissioned as a 2nd Lt in the U.S. Marine Corps. He then received his gold wings as a Naval Aviator and traveled the world on Naval cruises.

Sharperson then decided to pursue a unique career for a naval engineer—he decided to tackle corporate America. Sharperson held several positions in Fortune 500 companies and then went on to start his own company in 2000. He says his company aims to “develop individuals and organizations to maximize their potential.”

A member of Rotary International and a board member of Anderson Interfaith Ministries, Sharperson makes it a priority to give back to society “as others have so generously given to me during my life.” He’s a founder and participant in several mentoring programs and a member of the U.S. Navy’s Person In Me program.

Name: Ronald McDonald

Ronald McDonald
Company: RMC Development, LLC
Job Title: Managing Principal
Education & University: BS in General Engineering, U.S. Naval Academy MBA, University of Maryland

Following graduation from the Naval Academy in 1984, McDonald served nine years in the Navy as a surface warfare officer and a public affairs officer. He then received the Thousand Points of Light award from President George Bush.

McDonald is part of the Speakers’ Bureau for the U.S. Navy’s Person In Me program, a founding board member of the Real Estate Executive Council, and member of the National Association of Office and Industrial Properties.

1) How long have you been at your job and what do you do there?

CS: I have been developing, influencing and leading people all of my life. Today, the focus of my firm is executive coaching, team building, strategic planning and diversity awareness. I work with leaders to help them improve their personal goals and solve their organization and human resource problems.

RM: I have been developing commercial real estate for the last 13 years. Recently, my firm was part of a partnership that purchased 46 acres across from the U.S. Naval Academy. This is a $250 million project that will be redeveloped as a waterfront hotel, retail and office complex.

2) What’s the best aspect of your job?

CS: I like watching people grow and develop, and making order out of chaos in a variety of industries.

RM: The best aspect is the ability to create something that’s going to remain in place for a significant period of time. I enjoy knowing that I can take a raw piece of land and create a series of buildings, a community neighborhood, or office park that will become a place for people to live, work and play for generations.

3) What’s more important: salary or job satisfaction?

CS: Job satisfaction, autonomy and flexibility are more important to me than salary.

RM: There’s a balance between the two—money isn’t everything, but it’s a great way of keeping score. In order to do anything well for a significant period of time, however, it’s important that you enjoy what you do. If you’re good at it what you do, that will translate into a high salary and benefits.

4) What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

CS: The key to success in anything that you do is based on solid relationships and great customer service.

RM: A long time ago I was told to always take opportunities to network and meet people, wherever you are.

5) What’s the best way a fresh-out-of-college employee can impress you during their first week on the job?

CS: By listening, learning and taking the initiative to get things done without being told.

RM: Come in early and stay late.

Find an opportunity to come to work on Saturday. That’s what I did. It’s a great way to get noticed.

6) How did you learn to work with staff outside of your department?

CS: I learned by talking to others to find out their keys to success, and then duplicated where applicable.
RM: I tried to understand as much as possible about other departments, the challenges they faced, as well as their objectives and responsibilities. It’s always important to understand the big picture and how everyone fits into it.

7) What traits do you admire in your co-workers?

CS: Honesty, integrity, good work ethic, dependability and teamwork.

RM: I admire hard work and ethics that are consistent with mine. It’s very reassuring to look to my left and my right and see people who are willing to commit as much as possible to accomplish an objective.

8) How do you relieve job frustration?

CS: Pray, take a deep breath, keep perspective and realize that this too shall pass. I then play a round of golf and enjoy Mother Nature and the fellowship of friends.

RM: I try to make sure that I have balance in my life: golf and family. It’s not healthy to be 100% consumed by work. It is healthy to forget about work problems and just go home.

9) What one thing do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started your job?

CS: Life is a marathon and not a sprint.

RM: I wish I knew how rewarding it was to be an entrepreneur—the autonomy, the satisfaction of knowing when you have been successful. It gives you the opportunity to be on the receiving end of significant rewards, and the ability to choose the people that you work with. It’s extremely satisfying.

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