Going The Distance – Interview with Patrick “Lips” Houlahan


patrick-houlahan-lips-suit-pictureSince 1994, Patrick “Lips” Houlahan has flown the skies over numerous continents, bringing his expertise in aviation and leadership to the U.S. Marine Corps. With a number of accomplishments as a full-time reservist and Afterburner Executive Consultant, Lips’ has added one more to the list, this time as a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Army War College (USAWC). Last month Lips received a Masters of Strategic Studies degree when he completed a two-year intensive program in strategy development, critical thinking, and organizational communication.

We sat down with Lips to learn more about this unique experience, what he gained from it and how this knowledge will help him provide additional value as a leader to his Marines and the clients he serves here at Afterburner.

A lot of people are unfamiliar with War College, can you explain its purpose?

The purpose of US Army War College (USAWC) is to produce critical thinkers and complex problem solvers for Commanders and Civilian Leaders at the global and strategic level. The War College affords military and civilian leaders the opportunity to earn a Master of Strategic Studies degree dedicated to this area of study. The War College teaches the development of strategy and operational plans, ranging from public policy to national strategy, to achieve national security objectives.

This is unlike most post-graduate institutions, can you detail the admittance process and the program curriculum?

Students attending the USAWC are selected by their services and government departments through a highly competitive board process. In my class, we started with 457 students and graduated 365. The program I completed, the Distance Education Program (DEP), is accredited by the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, as a program for joint education, Phase I Senior Level (JPME I). It consists of eight core courses, such as Strategic Leadership, one elective, and two two-week long resident courses, and concludes with a graduate-level seminar.

How do you plan to leverage this experience in your work with Afterburner clients?

The business applications are immense because the course of study aligns perfectly with the challenges our clients face. How do you apply critical thinking in a rapidly changing, chaotic world and give direction to your teams that produce clear, measurable, achievable results? Our senior military leaders and our clients face these challenges every day in their strategic and operational environments.


About Patrick “Lips” Houlahan

Lips graduated from The Citadel in 1992 and from “Top Gun” in 2000. While on active duty, he applied his superior tactical expertise, leadership, and instructional capabilities to train over 320 replacement aircrew and in 2003 was selected as the Instructor Pilot of the Year. After leaving active duty in 2004, Lips brought his wealth of instructional experience to the Afterburner team. An expert at teaching and applying the Flawless Execution model, he quickly became one of Afterburner’s dynamic speakers, breakout facilitators, and strategic consultants.