Mike McCabe

Former TOPGUN Instructor, Naval Aviation Leader

We had a wonderful time having Mike there and it was an absolute honor and pleasure. What an absolutely amazing and gracious man! I’ve done this workshop for a long time and this was the best one yet. I sat in on Mike’s keynote and I was blown away! It may be time for me to retire because there is no way for me to top this!!! ”

– Wendy Testa, Technical Operations Support Supervisor
Master-Lee Engineered Products, Inc.

Throughout five command assignments and significant leadership positions, Mike had a reputation of achieving outstanding results while balancing safety, maintenance, operations, and budget. His ability to sustain high morale and retention, focus on subordinate development and instill a commitment to excellence at every level is a point of pride.

An Experienced Leader With a Passion for Innovation and Change

As a Leader, Mike McCabe oversaw some of the deepest technology shifts and changes at the US Navy. He ensured thousands of military personnel would be ready for these transformations and managed the budgets that supported these key innovations and changes.

His whole military career was driven by one motivation: sustaining a culture of excellence while caring for his people. He is eager to share these leadership values of care, action and innovation with today’s decision makers.

Mike’s passion for leadership took root during his term as an instructor at the renowned Navy Fighter Weapons School, aka TOPGUN. Blending his extensive command experience and TOPGUN best-practice, Mike McCabe has created an approach to leadership that is compelling, current and truly one of a kind.

Mike’s career is the stuff of dreams. As a child, he could be often found moving down the hallway with his five model aircraft carriers. When he became Director of Air Warfare at the Pentagon, Mike McCabe oversaw mega budgets of $31 billion per year in resources to support over 4000 aircraft, 12,000 naval aviators 60,000 personnel, and of course, 12 full-size aircraft carriers.

Mike with University of Oregon Head Coach Mark Helfrich and Offensive Coordinator Scott Frost

However, Mike’s story does not end with the military. In 2005 he retired from the Navy, and his unique leadership found new home as the President and COO of a commercial airline. In that arena, he successfully employed the same tactics and approaches he honed in his naval career. As a speaker and a leadership consultant, Mike is dedicated to translating his experience for use in varied and unique organizations.

The Carrier Deck Mentality

An aircraft carrier is made of moving parts, like an orchestra where musicians need to be synchronized and coordinated. A floating airport is loud, dangerous, and demands precision execution from its crew members, most of whom 
are young and working in an edge of the envelope environment. From an outside perspective, it shouldn’t work, but it DOES. Carrier protocol creates control even amid chaos. It’s a mindset that has powerful implications in the world at large. Mike is a skillful “conductor” who can help you infuse these leadership skills into your own organization and teams.


The Navy’s TOPGUN Fighter Weapons School has produced incredible success for over 40 years. “The most
 amazing organization I have
 seen, in or out of the Navy,”
 says Mike, who served as the
 executive officer. During that
 time, Mike developed an approach to education, review
 and focused execution that
 he used to replicate TOPGUN’s success throughout the Navy, and later in the world of business and government.