Learning Leadership

By Chad Osborne


That’s what Greg McCarthy’s ’85 teammates called him soon after he started his first soccer game at Radford University. It was a nickname painfully earned.

“We were playing in West Virginia — at Marshall, I think — I was going to head the ball, and a guy on the other team brought his foot up too high, and he kicked me in the face. I had to go to the hospital, and I got about eight stitches right here,” he recalled, laughing and running his finger across his upper lip. “I looked like I had a mustache.”

McCarthy missed the game’s second half, but he didn’t miss another minute of soccer during his remaining four years at the University. “Except for that first game, I never had an injury,” he said. “I was healthy the whole time, and I was the team captain for my sophomore, junior and senior years.”

When McCarthy was a high school senior living near Baltimore, Maryland, he wrote down everything he was looking for in a college. He wanted to play sports and earn a valuable degree in business. Research led him and a friend on a road trip to visit Radford University.

“I fell in love with it for obvious reasons,” McCarthy said of Radford. “I met Tom Lillard [1979 graduate and current associate vice president for University Advancement], who was the soccer coach and responsible for bringing me to campus. I met some students, and I knew this was where I wanted to be.”


Over the next four years, McCarthy learned many valuable life lessons at Radford, like time management. “I played almost year-round,” he said, “with just a little time off in the winter.” He played on the soccer and lacrosse teams and played indoor soccer in between. “We were quite successful at indoor soccer,” McCarthy recalled. “I remember winning tournaments at William & Mary, the University of Virginia and George Washington, against some really big Division I schools.”

Working well with people is another skill that sports often teach, McCarthy noted, recalling road trips in which multiple teammates often shared beds in hotel rooms.

“It was four sweaty guys to a room,” he joked. “We doubled down on beds, removing mattresses to have someone sleep on the floor and someone else sleep on the box springs.”

Managing those situations and serving three years as the soccer team’s captain — starting at age 17 — gave McCarthy the equivalent of an advanced degree in leadership. “I learned a lot about leading,” he said, “and that now translates into my business life.”

For the past five years, McCarthy has served as president and CEO of Key Solutions, Inc., a consulting company in Chantilly, Virginia, that “works with contractors to win government contracts,” he explained. His brother started Key Solutions in 1983, and McCarthy joined the company 17 years ago. In April 2020, he purchased it.

“I’ve learned the business from the ground floor and have helped advance the company to where it is today, and I’m proud of our reputation,” in the Washington, D.C., area, he said. “We have a staff of almost 50 people, a talented group from diverse backgrounds and skill sets, qualities I learned to value at Radford.”

McCarthy’s father worked in sales, and “he always encouraged me to follow that track,” he said. “There was no sales degree at Radford, so I majored in marketing, and it was a really good base for me. I learned marketing, but also accounting and finance, and I earned a great amount of knowledge about the business world.

“I’m grateful for the education I received at Radford,” McCarthy continued. “It was the right spot for me.”

Today, McCarthy relishes the opportunity to stay connected as a donor and volunteer with Radford University — stitching together “time and treasure,” he said — to give back to the University that prepared him to be the person and business owner he is today. McCarthy gives his time to the Radford University Athletic Foundation Board of Directors. “I love to help those student-athletes, like me, who may have been overlooked, but are growing into leadership roles,” the former soccer captain said. He also serves on the Davis and to the Davis College of Business and Economics Advisory Board.

“Radford University is a great destination for my time and money because of what it did for me and the way I’ve seen the University grow and the quality of students it is attracting,” McCarthy explained. “If I can help one student get closer to a business school degree, I feel I’ve helped in a small way.”


Jun 21, 2021