Meet John Pross, Vice President, Senior Program Manager

Life at Criterion | Careers

Meet John Pross, Vice President, Senior Program Manager


Criterion has many veterans and active reservists among its leadership and staff. In recognition of Veteran’s Day, we have created this new blog column to showcase these wonderful people. We will be sharing the stories of other veterans each month, and you will find them all in our Life at Criterion category.

What branch did you serve in?

United States Marine Corps

What was your position?

I had several jobs. My primary Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was 7522 (F-4 Pilot) then 7523 (F/A-18 Pilot). I served in many capacities in the squadrons wherein I served. The most impactful for me were as the Aircraft Maintenance Officer of VMFA-451 (Warlords), Executive Officer of VMFA(AW)-332 (Moonlighters), and Commanding Officer of VMFA-212 (Lancers). In addition to flying fighters, I led Marines (or at least I tried), from the rank of 2nd Lieutenant through Colonel. My last duty was at the Pentagon on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations leading the development of a new warfighting concept for the Navy and Marine Corps called “Seabasing,” which actually became a Joint Warfighting Concept.

What was the time frame you were in the military?

I attended the US Naval Academy from 1975-1979 as a Midshipman and was commissioned as a 2ndLt in the US Marine Corps in May of 1979. I served in the Marine Corps until Oct 2004 when I retired as a Colonel.

What was the most rewarding aspect of serving in the military?

The most rewarding aspect of my service was leading Marines and Sailors – from helping young men and women navigate the challenges of adulthood and military service to inspiring Marines and Sailors of all ranks to be their best, strive for more, and maintain their integrity and identity while serving as a team member in the world’s finest fighting force.

What lessons learned during your service do you apply to your job now in the civilian sector?

The lessons I learned all centered on the two most prominent aspects of my Marine Corps career, which flow into my current work: leadership and organization – understanding people, why they behave as they do, and how to influence that behavior in a way that results in rewards for them and success in our collective mission.

Why did you choose to pursue a job in Government Contracting?

It was the most seamless follow-on opportunity after military retirement. After 25 years of flying fighters, an airline job simply wasn’t going to excite me as much as a leadership-related job.

How do you like it?

As with all jobs, working as a contractor for the federal government has its rewards and its disappointments/frustrations. But, I remain focused on the people I am privileged to lead – which I find most rewarding – while insulating them as best I can from frustration and disappointment that can result from the churn of the Federal government. We work to accomplish the mission of our customer, meet corporate goals, and help people find reward in their work and their careers.

What advice would you give to military members who are about to re-enter civilian life?

  • You have highly marketable skills and work ethic; believe it and use them.
  • While there may not be a good fit for your “technical” expertise in the civilian world – as with me (there are not too many positions in industry to fly pointy-nosed, twin-tailed, supersonic jets straight up and down) – there are myriad opportunities to ply your leadership expertise and ethic of commitment and mission accomplishment.
  • Get a good mentor to help craft your resume to the positions you seek and have the confidence and go out and do great things!