Project Management Master’s Student Connection to the Real Argo Mission

By John McInnis, Project Management- Information Systems ‘14


A little bit about myself

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI currently live in Austin, Texas, and am employed by the City of Austin’s municipally owned electric utility, Austin Energy, as a Business Systems Analyst.  Previous to this, I was a Program Director for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, an Accounts Receivable Supervisor for Coca-Cola Enterprises, Communications Intelligence Intercept Officer and Analyst for the National Security Agency, a Military Intelligence/Counter Intelligence Sergeant in the U.S. Army and a Passenger Terminal Services Agent for Pan American Airlines. My Bachelor of Science degree is in Geography/Environmental Science with a minor in Geology from Texas State University – San Marcos.

I was raised overseas for 15 of my formative years then lived and worked overseas another 6 years.   My father was a CIA officer and consequently we were stationed around the world with his work. I completed my elementary education in private Spanish schools in Bolivia and Ecuador, my middle school years in the Berlin, Germany Public School System, and finally graduated from the Tehran American High School in Tehran, Iran.  My class was the last graduating class before the school was closed down by the Iranian Revolution of 1978-1979. In the course of my own career I was stationed in Germany, Brazil, Honduras, Colombia, and El Salvador in the Army and the U.S. embassies.

From Argo to Austin

Tom McInnis Shortly after being returned to my Unit from EUCOM HQ 1It appears that my latest claim to fame amongst my friends is that I was part of the real ARGO story as a young serviceman in the Army.  I was featured in an ABC News story because of a blog I wrote about the experience.

“When the embassy was seized, Admiral Packard of the European Command Center was having a fit with Washington because they couldn’t provide a Farsi linguist for several weeks. My friend, the staff sergeant, told him that he knew me from Iran and that I spoke fluent Farsi. According to my friend, the admiral was “and so what?” This SSgt told him, “Sir, you don’t understand; he joined the army, speaks Farsi, and is here in Stuttgart.” That Saturday afternoon my very shaken 1st Lieutenant called me down to the Battalion HQ and told me that he didn’t know what I’d done, but I was to have my a## packed and ready to go in 20 minutes. The admiral was sending a staff car to pick me up.

I spent November 4th, 1979, through November 11th at the European Command Headquarters sitting on the floor manning two telephones and tracking the movements of a group led by Robert Anders, the head of the consular section, and five others who had just fled the overrun US Embassy in Tehran. I fielded calls from Iranians, friends and former employees of the U.S. Government, and American companies still in Iran. As the calls came in, they would be directed to me. Using my knowledge of the streets and bus systems of Tehran, I plotted the group’s day to day, and house to house movements on a large map until they finally reached the relative safety of the home of a Canadian diplomat on November 10th, 1979.”  Click to read the full story.

What I’m working on now

Though I am in what is classically an IT career path, I am not a classically trained IT specialist.  The utility I work for is a meld of engineers and IT professionals.  As a Business Systems Analyst, beyond the scope of compiling data and performing statistical analysis I am also responsible for process analysis, process improvement and quality management. This is my second semester at Florida Tech’s Virtual site where I am pursuing my Master’s Degree in Project Management – Information Systems to strengthen my skill set, enhancing the contribution I am making to the city and citizens of Austin, Texas.

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