By Bryce Guerrero
Born and raised on Guam, Charles T. McJohn II left the island’s laid-back shores and immersed himself in the high-speed society of California to attend college at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
After receiving his bachelor’s in business management economics, the marketing and leasing manager for Agana Shopping Center plunged into the competitive world of the California career market. Working for Berlitz Corp. in Beverly Hills, McJohn was selling language programs to the likes of singer Shakira and actor Ken Watanabe.
“Being in Beverly Hills, and being in high-end language training and instruction, we dealt with a lot of people in Hollywood,” McJohn says.
But after living in California for about eight years, homesickness caught up to him.
“I sold all my stuff, got on a plane and came back home. I missed Guam and I missed my family. The lifestyle in Los Angeles was fast. It was definitely a great experience […]. I had a lot fun and I learned a lot, but I thought it was a good time to come home,” he says.
When McJohn did come home, he returned to friends and the ocean.
“The first three months I came back, I surfed a lot. I reconnected with friends; […] I really had the active aquatic lifestyle and just reconnected with the ocean again. In Los Angeles I dipped my toe in the water and looked at how polluted it was and decided I was never going in.”
When McJohn decided to hit the workforce again, he began working with the U.S. military on Guam as Morale, Welfare and Recreation events coordinator, responsible for setting up events designed to ease and unburden the minds of the armed services members.
“When I was there, I learned a lot about events. It’s really humbling to do stuff for the armed forces, for our men and women who serve the country and their families. We did amazing stuff. We brought in world-class acts, and a lot of people on Guam aren’t aware […]; I literally picked up platinum selling groups, drove them straight to the base, drove them back to the airport, and no one would’ve known unless you lived on Naval Base Guam. Edwin McCain … we did Sum 41… we did Smashmouth […] we did Switchfoot. I became sort of a local liaison for armed forces entertainment.”
McJohn says his experience at MWR, which lasted a little less than three years, was like a crash course in events.
“I grew a lot there, and I knew I could do things outside of the gate. I always wanted to give back to Guam. Though it was admirable with MWR for the troops, I always wanted to do stuff for Guam. That was a big turning point for me, so in 2010 I applied for promotions coordinator position here at Agana Shopping Center. I know a bunch of people applied, and to my surprise, I got it.”
In about five months, McJohn was appointed marketing manager of the shopping center at age 28. He is also the leasing manager and focuses on continuing and improving the long-standing events that have become a stronghold for Agana Shopping Center through its history. Additionally, McJohn tries to make sure the shopping center has a good number of local stores to help strengthen the island’s economy.
“One thing we really pride ourselves on here is that we work with a lot of local companies — and not local wealthy companies — but local everyday small businesses. And when I say small businesses, I truly mean it,” he says. “I think Agana Shopping Center really prides itself on developing local businesses, and I think that’s so important.”
In his rare downtime, McJohn writes, sings with his band called Rock Bottom and spends time with his girlfriend, Dominique, his daughter, Lyric, and his stepdaughter, Hannah. n