What makes an impressive MBA resume?
For many, it comes down to big names like Google and big titles like Vice President. For a resume that really stands out, look for names like Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines – and titles like Company Commander or Logistics Officer.
EARLY EXPLOSURE TO LEADERSHIP AND TEAMWORK GIVE VETERANS AN ADVANTAGE
Business schools love military veterans! According to a 2017 analysis performed by MBA Data Guru, tier one schools accepted 23% of military applicants, nearly 10 points higher than “traditional” populations. The gap grows to a 39%-to-25% margin among tier two MBA programs (defined as programs like Tuck, Ross, Stern, and Darden).
It’s easy to see why. Military veterans may lack exposure to the finer points of Pareto or PowerPoint, but they’ve lived-and-breathed the essentials of leadership. Before returning to campus, they’ve already managed teams – some numbering over a hundred. In terrain where bundling and blitzing are replaced by bullets and bombs, veterans have been tested under fire. Amid the fog and ambiguity, they’ve learned poise, flexibility, and accountability. Add to that, they all started as followers – perfect preparation for operating in diverse teams where roles are often fluid.
Creative and capable and dynamic and deliberate, veterans bring a hard-won maturity and know-how to the MBA classroom. That’s particularly true of the ten first-years who made P&Q’s list of the veterans to watch. It is a group who has done everything. They have commanded Navy SEAL squads, graduated from TOPGUN, and helped rebuild devastated Afghan infrastructure. These are the students who won’t need much direction. And that’s because they’re carving out their own paths – and providing an example for their peers to follow. Here are their stories.
(Editor’s Note: These MBA candidates are not ranked in any order.)
Adam Scheer / U.S. Navy / NYU (Stern): How tough is U.S. Navy SEAL training? Just 1% of candidates make it through 52 weeks of training. That pretty much makes NYU’s 21% acceptance rate seem like a sure thing, huh?
Adam Scheer did more than just make it through SEAL training. He eventually became a SEAL Platoon Commander, where he oversaw 16 highly-trained operators. Now, Scheer is looking to beat the odds again – this time by transitioning into a career in finance. Considering that he has already survived an avalanche on Mount Whitney, you can bet that he’ll be commanding his own platoon of quants in the coming years.
While the Big Apple may be the perfect starting point for a finance career, Scheer credits something altogether different for his decision to enroll at Stern. “It was the passion, warmth, and propensity for mentorship displayed by the Stern Military Veterans Club that made the choice easy,” he writes. “They really took me under their wing early on in my application process, and continued to do so during my interview and campus visits. Coming from a small, tight-knit, specialized military community, their behavior really resonated with me and was something I was looking for in an MBA program.”
Megan McGee / U.S. Army / Duke (Fuqua): In business school, you learn the advantages of being the first and the only. In practice, it isn’t always that easy. Just ask Megan McGee. After working as a staff assistant to the U.S. House of Representative’s Armed Services Committee, she was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan, where she served as a Military Intelligence Officer. On the surface, it was an enviable opportunity…but it came with one caveat.
“I was the only woman directly assigned to an airborne infantry regiment of over 800 soldiers,” she writes.
It was a rite of passage for McGee, who proved to her regiment – and herself – that she could meet the physical and intellectual demands of the job. Through her example, she opened doors for other women to follow. “Four years later, I took those experiences and helped integrate the first 10 women into the infantry as the Gender Integration Officer-in-Charge for the Army’s Chief of Infantry. I advocated for women in Ranger school and combat arms jobs by providing personal experiences and professional feedback.”
Now, McGee plans to tackle tech. Chances are, she will tackle the hard jobs and set the bar for those who follow her there too.
Andrew Bayne / U.K. Army / Warwick Business School: In the army, you are always preparing, hardening your body, sharpening your mind, and honing your responses. Despite the training and discipline it takes to be a solider, no training could prepare Andrew Bayne for the toughest assignment of his military career…holding a pop music concert.
Yes, Bayne had parachuted in Sydney’s Palm Bay– and served in hotspots like Iraq and the Balkans. The real test came when he had to organize a concert for 5,000 Afghans featuring singer Farhad Darya Oh…and Afghan President Hamid Karzai had RSVP’d too.
No pressure, right?
Sure enough, Bayne channeled his inner Bill Graham and pulled off an event that ranks among his most rewarding experiences. Now, this commissioned officer is stretching his comfort zone…by joining Warwick Business School’s full-time MBA class. Thus far, he says, his biggest achievement is one that many take for granted.
“I view the knowledge I have built up to this point, where I can now confidently ‘read’ and comprehend a financial statement and possible implications for a business’ future strategy and profitability to be a real achievement.”
Looking ahead, the Scot is hoping to work for an “innovative global company.” If that doesn’t work, he can always reach out to Simple Minds and Runrig before tour season.