Prior to enrolling in The Richmond MBA three years ago, Matthew Gallagher was invited to a Richmond MBA dinner series event on the topic of leadership.  As Debbie Fisher, assistant director of the MBA program explains, “It is common for us to include prospective MBA students in these events.  We want them to get a true feel for the program so that they might make an informed decision before enrolling.”

At the dinner event that night in the home of a local executive, Gallagher, who was employed by Johnson & Johnson, met MBA graduate Kevin Heffernan, GB ’07, who was working for General Electric.  During the course of their conversation, the two realized they had many things in common. 

Both are service academy graduates. Heffernan attended the United States Military Academy at West Point while Gallagher received his undergraduate degree from the United States Air Force Academy.  During their discussions, Heffernan encouraged Gallagher to apply to The Richmond MBA program.

“Part of [my decision to pursue The Richmond MBA] was because of Heffernan,” he said. “We talked the same talk, and he leveled with me and said, ‘here’s what you can expect [in The Richmond MBA].’ The program aligned with my professional and personal goals. I wanted to have flexibility and a strong educational foundation.”

The pair’s paths seemed destined to be aligned when an opportunity at General Electric became available a year later.  Gallagher flew to Florida to discuss a Regional Sales Manager opening, which was Heffernan’s position prior to his promotion to Global Sales Leader for the firm.

Heffernan, who was impressed with Gallagher at their first meeting, had no doubt that he would make a suitable replacement.  “When the job came open I immediately thought [Gallagher] would be a good fit,” Heffernan said.

In August 2010, the duo made another career move in tandem.  Heffernan accepted a position as Director of Sales of Morpho Detection (formerly G.E. Homeland Protection) and invited Gallagher to join him in the role of federal and military sales leader.  Morpho Detection provides law enforcement and border control solutions and products to governments, national agencies and administrations.  Morpho also engages with the private sector on secure physical or logical access control. 

In late 2011, Heffernan was promoted to General Manager of Americas Aviation at Morpho.  Not surprisingly, when selecting a candidate to replace him, he tapped Gallagher. 

Now, as General Manager, Heffernan enjoys interacting with different aspects of the business.  “I’m closely tied with the engineering group and marketing team in terms of development and marketing of our products,” he said.  

Heffernan, who is based in Dallas, spends about 70 percent of his time travelling to places like Washington, D.C.,  Boston, and Toronto.  Gallagher, now in Heffernan’s previous position as Sales Director, spends his work day motivating the non-aviation sales team and travels about 50 percent of the time.

Gallagher said, “Since I manage a federal and military team and a commercial team, I try to help them strategically target different accounts.”  “If they need guidance on a project or assistance with a challenging customer, I am there.”

Heffernan and Gallagher, both newly promoted, share a passion for their work and for the organization. For Gallagher, his passion is rooted in the company’s mission statement. 

“The mission statement we embrace is to help defend against political terrorists, potential terrorists, and to detect contraband,” he said.  “For me, that fits within the nature of what I’m about.” 

“I’ve always had that sense of wanting to be a part of something bigger than myself,” Gallagher noted.

Heffernan sees Morpho as a good fit for him too.  “A lot of the values and methods for leading are similar to what many of us in [service academy] backgrounds went through and share.”

Looking to the future, Gallagher is anticipating graduating from The Richmond MBA program this spring and has already seen the benefits of the curriculum at work in his career.  “I understand different business perspectives and issues that come up [at work] now, much more than I did before,” he explained.

Heffernan, with an MBA degree under his belt, has found his place at Morpho.  “[My long-term career goal is] to perform a job that is engaging and that challenges me and also have a good work-life balance.”

“What I’m doing now would be perfectly fine with me for many years,” he said.