Crabbe’s process of getting to business school reflects a piece of advice that one of his partners, West Point graduate Rob Carpio, had for junior officers. Carpio spent part of his service working on the Patriot missile defense system and finished up in the West Point admissions office doing inner-city outreach. His advice: junior officers can gain invaluable insight and help from the powerful veteran network. Like Crabbe, Carpio was guided toward HBS by a mentor who also had spent time in the military and now works for General Electric Co.
Both Crabbe and Carpio advise junior officers to consider their options at least a year before the end of their service commitment. If they’re interested in an MBA, they should take time to find out about the culture of each school. Crabbe and Carpio said this kind of reflection led them to make the right decision in choosing HBS. Crabbe described HBS as being a highly collaborative place with an open and cooperative “coffee culture.” At any given time, he said, students are getting together over coffee to discuss everything from possible business ventures to how to gain “air time” in a classroom where half your grade is based on participation.
Carpio also believes that HBS’s famous case study method of teaching is a logical extension of military leadership training. Both emphasize the practical and immediately put you in the shoes of a leader. “You can’t learn to lead by watching a PowerPoint or reading a book,” says Carpio.
For all of the firm’s partners, Military to Business is a side venture. Crabbe starts a job in the fall at Bain & Co., while Carpio begins with McKinsey & Co. Yet another partner is involved in a Boston-based startup, while a fourth is off to Amazon. The firm offers varying counseling packages for both MBA and law school applicants. They’ll assist with essay writing, resumes, and interview preparation. They will also offer general career counseling. While it will always be a side project to their full-time jobs, the men behind Military to Business plan to keep the service running indefinitely, hiring more consultants as needed.
One thing’s for sure: tidying up an applicant’s essay is bound to be a lot easier than cleaning up an insurgent stronghold in Iraq.