Author: Anonymous Submitted: 09.06.09 Word Count: 884
Student Name Veaceslav Paladi
Benefits of Military background in post-MBA careers
This paper will be examining the challenges and advantages a military career offers prospective MBA students, examining examples from United States.
With the United States military being 1 444 108 people strong [i] created on a rotation based principle, the number of people exiting active duty and seeking civilian employment is constantly growing. Some of them face challenges in the adaptation process and arguable the best way to pass through the rehabilitation phase while welding the support needed for future career growth is attending a business school.
Today’s military is more complex and differs in many ways from the conventional archetypical perception of ‘people with guns’. The skills, knowledge and information processing capabilities required are rather comparable to the business world needs. According to Al Chase of White Rhino Partners, the military may be compared to a laboratory that crafts outstanding commanders needed in the battle field while also serving as an incubator for future business performers.[ii] He supports this by the importance that business puts on leadership—a quality the Armed forces develop maybe better than any other institution in the world. The importance of leadership in business can not be overstressed, this also being one of the core values of any MBA programme. While military MBA students might have little experience in specific business areas – marketing or finance – they definitely have developed strong leadership, team building and motivation skills.
While on active duty being in a position of controlling and being responsible – in the deepest sense of it – of a group of people with different backgrounds, personality traits and skills, military personnel are receiving the best managerial training there is. As retired Major General Joseph Franklin states it in his book Building Leaders the West Point Way: Ten Principles from the Nation’s Most Powerful Leadership Lab “leadership is more Caught than Taught” in the sense that military environment is a fast paced one and getting the information on the run, synthesising it and making decision with partial and incomplete data is a fact of life for military leaders[iii]. That is why more recruitment firms and businesses in general tend to look more favourable at MBA’s with military ‘under their belt’ considering them people with strong character and values.
Organizations value creative thinking, vision, ability to perceive and concentrate on the task at hand while at the same time keeping the ‘big picture’ in mind—the military develops same values and abilities. The motivation factor and leading—take into account that it takes much more than financial incentives or the promise of a promotion to instigate people to put themselves in harm’s way.
The same theme is developed in the book “Leader Development for Transforming Organizations: Growing Leaders for Tomorrow, when Maj. Gen Lon E Maggart points up the value of situational awareness, ‘the competence’ sought by visionary organizations and outperforming companies.[iv] The argument behind it is the limited human ability to understand and research the situation / problem at hand. The main and decisive factor is the leaders’ ability to clearly identify the desired outcome and than transmit that energy and passion to the employees, inoculating them with the ‘will to succeed’ vaccine; this will allow the most efficient and effective commitment of the resources available towards achieving the set goal.
It should not be taken, however that all companies need to hire managers with previous military experience or conduct team building exercises and staff meetings in a ‘survive and evade’ settings in the deep woods. According to Anna Hipkiss, a learning coach with Avenue Management, while companies are successfully employing military-like team building exercises, there have been examples of adverse reactions when employees have been unable to cope with the pressure during the exercises or feeling their performance level was dissatisfactory they actually quit their jobs[v].
It is evident that the post 9/11 events shattered the world in many significant ways, perceptions changed and new generation of people is coming to be. A prominent part of this group will be the Military MBA’s, the ones that received outstanding leadership, performance and motivation training, enforced those essential skills in harsh, unpredictable, hostile and ‘competitive’ environment and later had the strength and mind power to achieve weighty academic training. These are the true leaders of the new century, the ones visionary companies are on the look out for.
[i] Department of Defense. (2008). ARMED FORCES STRENGTH FIGURES FOR SEPTEMBER 30, 2008. Available: http://siadapp.dmdc.osd.mil/personnel/MILITARY/ms0.pdf. Last accessed october 24th, 2008.
[ii] Al Chase. ( March 13, 2008,). Veterans with the Right Stuff. Available: http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/content/mar2008/bs20080313_711279.htm. Last accessed october 24th, 2008.
[iii] Francesca Di Meglio. (August 22, 2007). Learning from the ‘Long Gray Line’. Available: http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/content/aug2007/bs20070822_822436.htm. Last accessed october 24th, 2008.
[iv] Leader Development for Transforming Organizations: Growing Leaders for Tomorrow
David V. Day, Stephen J. Zaccaro, Stanley M. Halpin, Contributor David V. Day, Stephen J. Zaccaro
Published by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004.
[v] Michael Millar (2006, July). Modelled on a modern major general? Personnel Today,18-19. Retrieved October 22, 2008, from ABI/INFORM Global database. (Document ID: 1084785741).