Making an impact—in the Navy and in business

After 25 years in the United States Navy, Capt. Brian Ginnane, MBA ’04, is an expert in supply chains, logistics and operations.

Throughout his distinguished career, Ginnane has managed a shipyard with more than 217,000 pieces of inventory, served as chief operations officer aboard a massive aircraft carrier and overseen the largest budget line in the Department of Defense’s appropriations—$11.6 billion.

When he retired from service in late 2018, Ginnane received the Defense Superior Service Medal, just one of many awards he has earned. But looking back on his service, it’s not the honors he recalls most fondly—it’s the sailors he served with and the impact they made together.

“I cherish the relationships I formed, whether they were as a mentor, a peer or even a protégé to a senior-ranking admiral,” says Ginnane, who served with former Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis at U.S. Central Command. “I’m also proud of the positive impact we had when we landed overseas. Even in my youngest days, every time we pulled into port, I could sense the pride in what we were doing for our country and our allies.”

Ginnane began—and ended—his Navy career in Columbus, Ohio, where he accepted an ROTC scholarship to Ohio State University and graduated with his bachelor’s in 1993. A decade later when he arrived at UB, Ginnane had already served on an attack submarine, at Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, D.C., and on the USS Carl Vinson.

“I was deployed on the Carl Vinson on 9/11 and watched it happen on TV like everybody else,” he says. “Our ship was supposed to pull into the Persian Gulf on Sept. 12, but we diverted ourselves to the north Arabian Sea and were the first aircraft carrier to perform combat missions over Afghanistan.”

As an MBA student at the UB School of Management, Ginnane concentrated on supply chains and management information systems, laying the foundation for the second half of his Navy career. (To this day, he still has the ‘best team player’ award he received from his MBA cohort.)

“At UB, I gained a broad, deep understanding of supply chain management and IT systems,” says Ginnane, who grew up in Kenmore and still has family in the area. “The first half of my career was tactical, at the last mile of the materials management process. But after my MBA, I began managing large organizations and the complex movement of materials. The foundation I got at UB was invaluable in setting me on the successful career I’ve had.”

From 2004 to 2018, Ginnane’s career took him to several ports across the U.S. In Tampa, for example, he was director of finance at U.S. Central Command, advocating with senior leaders—including those in the White House—for future operations and funding for the War on Terror. On the USS Ronald Reagan from 2013-15, he reached the pinnacle of a supply officer’s career when he was chosen to lead all business management functions for the supercarrier with 5,000 sailors and 70 aircraft.

Today, Ginnane uses the skills he gained in the Navy and the UB MBA program in his civilian career, as director of site operations for McKesson, a health care services and medical supply company.

“Between the Navy and the business world, we may speak a different language and use a different IT system, but those systems are designed fundamentally with the same backbone—and that’s what I learned at UB in my MBA curriculum,” he says.

Outside of work, Ginnane is active in veterans’ organizations and the father of four grown children with his wife, Nicole. In addition, he coaches track and field, bowling and swimming for the Special Olympics—all sports he and his son, Seamus, enjoy playing together.

Written by Matthew Biddle