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Eric Johnson ('06)

Eric Johnson ('06)

1. Basic Information:  

Name: Eric T. Johnson
Title: Special Agent
Organization: Department of Homeland Security
City: Newark
State: New Jersey
Country: USA

2. Educational Record:

At Marietta College:
Graduation Year: 2006
Major(s): Psychology
Minor(s): Leadership Studies and Political Science
Honors/Awards: Cum Laude

Degrees after Marietta College:
Area of Study: Homeland Security Management
College/University: Long Island University - Riverhead
Graduation Year: Summer 2011

3. Describe your organization and what you do in this organization
(job responsibilities, recent projects, work environment).

The Department of Homeland Security is the lead federal agency charged
with responding to both natural disasters and terrorist attacks within the United
States. Created in the wake of the attacks on September 11 th, 2001, the
Department unified and strengthened the efforts of multiple federal agencies to
prepare for, respond to, and recover from all hazards and disasters, both
man-made and naturally occurring, that the United States faces. The agency I
work for within DHS is charged with counter-terrorism missions specifically related
to aviation security and other modes of civilian, public transportation to ensure an
attack like that of 9/11 does not occur again. We are law enforcement officers who
are trained and prepared to detect, deter, and defeat hostile acts targeting such
transportation domains. My work involves extensive domestic and internationally
travel; long, irregular working hours; maintaining both high levels of physical fitness
and firearms proficiency; and keeping up-to-date on current events throughout the
United States and the rest of the world, as my duties and missions respond to
events going on in the world.

4. Briefly discuss how "leadership" plays a role in your professional field.

My position affords me a vast amount of independence, as I’m away from
home roughly 3-4 nights a week. My operating environment is one that is
constantly changing, working in different cities in different countries with
different people. Leadership plays a significant role in my position because
of how much responsibility I have on my shoulders. My actions have
far-reaching repercussions. Being away so often means I hardly ever interact
with my supervisor unless I have an issue in the field I cannot resolve myself.
Situations I am involved with are dynamic and fluid, not affording me the
opportunity to get on the phone with my supervisor to see what I should do.
I have to make the decision myself and live with the outcome. The leadership
style in my agency is very hands-off, as field agents act autonomously without
much immediate oversight. However, we understand we are an image of the
agency, the U.S. government, and U.S. citizens in general when we travel.
Leadership in my position definitely falls more on the individual than from
a more traditional top-down approach. You have to be able to operate
independently or you will not be successful, jeopardizing your life and the
lives of those you are to protect.

5. Briefly discuss how the McDonough Leadership Program prepared
you for this professional field and leadership challenges.

The people I work with change on a daily basis. I do not have a regular partner
assigned, unlike other law enforcement agencies. I have to be adaptive in the
way I work to accommodate for the different personalities and leadership styles
of those I work with. Otherwise, I’m in for a long day. McDonough taught me how
to work with people with different types of leadership styles and to adapt my own
style to work with them. Some days, I’m the Team Leader on a given mission so
generally I make the decisions for the group of people I work with. On other days,
someone else is the Team Leader for a mission, and I have to listen to his or her
decisions. However, the structure is not very rigid, and we are able to make
decisions that adapt to the situation at hand. Everyone listens to one another
because we have to make decisions that are in all of our best interests. We all
want to go home at the end of the day and need to work together in order to do so.

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