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Midsize Business Leader: John McBeth, Next Century Corp.

John McBeth is the President and CEO of Next Century. Next Century, a technology and software solutions company in Annapolis Junction in one of the Baltimore Sun's Top Workplaces. October 17, 2019
John McBeth is the President and CEO of Next Century. Next Century, a technology and software solutions company in Annapolis Junction in one of the Baltimore Sun's Top Workplaces. October 17, 2019 (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)

The “about” page on Next Century Corp.'s website features the unsettling image of the twin towers of New York City’s World Trade Center soaring into the sky. While the towers and the thousands of lives they held have been gone for more than 18 years, they’re an important part of the Annapolis Junction company’s origin story and mission.

John McBeth, a software engineer who’d worked in satellite image processing and run a Laurel software and network design company that worked with the Defense Department, found himself stuck in San Diego after flights were grounded on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, so he rented a car to drive the roughly 2,600 miles home to Maryland.

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Along the way as news of that day’s horror sank in, he became obsessed with the idea that it could have been prevented and decided to launch a new company to apply his and others’ technology skills to helping the U.S. intelligence and defense communities stop future attacks.

Today, McBeth serves as president and CEO of the company, which develops technology solutions that offer data visualization, predictive analysis and situational awareness. It’s what McBeth likes to call his and the company’s “destiny.”

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Ensuring that employees engage with the mission is an essential part of what McBeth’s role as Next Century’s leader, and, to hear his employees tell it, he has succeeded.

“We are protecting our nation and saving lives,” said one.

“Everyone at Next Century is committed to quality and making the world a better place,” another said.

McBeth is “highly involved” and “leads by example.” He’s also accessible.

“He cares about the individuals and knows everyone by name/face and will always ask how you are and how your day is,” one employee said. “I never feel like a number here at Next Century.”

Rank Company Founded Ownership Sector Locations Employees
1Next Century Corp.2002PrivateSoftware development & consulting2154
2Cummings & Co. Realtors2006PrivateResidential real estate10391
3The Harbour School1982NonprofitPrimary/secondary school2179
4McDonogh School1873PrivatePrimary/secondary school1387
5Loyola Blakefield1852NonprofitPrimary/secondary school1166
6Notre Dame Preparatory School1873NonprofitMiddle and high school1161
7Skyline Technology Solutions LLC2004PrivateInformation technology & devices2223
8Network Building + Consulting LLC1984PrivateWireless communication services2168
9Advance Business Systems1964PrivateBusiness & technology solutions1151
10Beth Tfiloh Congregation & School1921NonprofitSynagogue/Day School2277
11Continental Realty Corp.1960PrivateProperty management40236
12NFM Lending1998PrivateMortgage lending11265
1314 West Administrative Services2001PrivateBusiness services5380
14Corporate Office Properties Trust1998PublicReal estate investment trust7281
15CGI Federal1976PublicBusiness and IT consulting2153
16Wallace Montgomery & Associates LLP1975PartnershipEngineering1215
17Morgan Properties1985PrivateProperty management30282
18The Bryn Mawr School1885NonprofitEducation1203
19Humphrey Management1983PrivateProperty management19194
20Stansberry Research2001PrivatePublishing1154
21Agora Financial2004PrivatePublishing5275
22Baltimore Country Club1898PrivateClub & golf course2275
23Personal Genome Diagnostics2010PrivateBiotechnology2200
24The St. Paul's Schools1849NonprofitPrimary/secondary school1305
252nd Family Home Care and Support Services2011PrivateHome health care1253
26Money Map Press2007PrivatePublishing1219
27NewDay USA2002PrivateMortgage Lending1399
28AECOM1970PublicEngineering6240

In his spare time, McBeth founded and leads DreamBuilders, an interfaith community of teens and adults that blitz-builds homes for those in need in Maryland and elsewhere.

McBeth took a few moments from helping the government protect the nation — and building homes — to answer a few questions from The Baltimore Sun about leadership:

What is a leader’s role in building a place people want to work?

Create a place where it is possible and necessary (key word) for people to accomplish great things. For us at Next Century, this means passionately pursuing our mission to protect this great nation. We consider this a great and worthy purpose.

What is your influence on your organization’s culture?

By being a world-class example of a person who is dedicated to our mission, thus nurturing the sort of culture that will make it necessary for all employees to demand of themselves, of others and of their tools and resources whatever it takes to make Next Century the best in the business by any measure. By becoming known as a person who says what they mean and means what they say.

What’s the hardest lesson about leadership you’ve learned?

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That there is a real world outside of your place that does not live up to the ideals you live by. Rather than being perpetually stressed, figure out how to get the right things done anyway. If you take this attitude, it can become fun.

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