British Army Major turned technology leader

06 February 2024

Luke Parker, former British Army Major turned technology leader at Google, discusses his Executive MBA journey so far as a Heropreneurs WBS Scholarship winner. In this blog he shares the motivation and inspiration behind his MBA application, as well as his expectations and goals for the coming years.

Tell us about yourself and your background.

I joined the British Army after completing my undergraduate degree in Geography at the University of Leeds. After a year of leadership training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, I was commissioned into the Corps of Royal Engineers. My career in the military spanned Search and Explosive Ordnance Disposal, combat engineering, and geospatial intelligence, but I have now found my calling working within the technology sector at Google. I found that my MBA knowledge, when combined with my military experience, has given me a significant advantage when applying for roles in the technology sector.

What first attracted you to Warwick Business School?

Initially, I was daunted by the volume of MBA programmes on offer. What drew me to Warwick Business School (WBS) was the school’s rankings and alumni. Additionally, the British Army has a great relationship with WBS and has previously sent people to study here as part of the Army Advanced Development Programme (AADP). After talking with the WBS British Army alums, I was impressed with their positive experiences, strengthening my choice.

I couldn’t self-fund and had begun exploring some of the many scholarships offered. Serendipitously, a friend and previous Heropreneurs WBS Award winner shared a LinkedIn post about the amazing scholarship opportunities WBS was offering in collaboration with Heropreneurs - including the 100% scholarship award. The application process consisted of a few mini-essays, an interview, and finally, a Dragon's Den-style pitch at The Shard in London. The WBS team were extremely supportive during every step of the application.

What inspired you to take on your Executive MBA?

I had reached a pivotal point in my military career and made the difficult decision to leap into a new role. At the time, I believed that what would hold me back was a lack of ‘business experience’ and that an Executive MBA would make me a more rounded candidate for the roles I was targeting in technology.

I was inspired to undertake a programme that would allow me to study without interrupting the learning I would need to do in a new job. The WBS programme would also allow me the opportunities to study abroad and gain exposure to global networks. I recently completed a Big Data module at IE Business School, Madrid, and I am looking forward to an Entrepreneurial Finance module in San Francisco. Furthermore, I would learn alongside highly skilled professionals from various industries, each with tremendously valuable experiences to share. 

How has the reality of studying your MBA met with your expectations?

If anything, they have been surpassed! I had already prepared myself for the extra work of reading and study that goes along with any postgraduate level courses. However, the topics have been so engaging that it hasn’t felt like ‘extra work’. What has been most useful is that each module has been immediately beneficial to my workplace; I have been able to tailor assignments to the benefit of my new role.

Which elements of your programme are you enjoying the most and why?

I have recently completed the Big Data module at one of WBS’s partner institutions, IE Business School,Madrid. The international modules WBS offers as part of its curriculum are second to none and introduce you to the wider international business school network. Now that I have completed most of my core MBA modules, I am able to shape my electives to customise more closely what I want from my MBA to match my future. This is opening new opportunities and developing my skills for my recent career pivot.

What advice would you give those starting/thinking of starting an Executive MBA?

This will be one of the most significant investments in your personal development. As service personnel or veterans, you may feel like you do not have the requisite business experience to undertake an MBA; but you couldn’t be more wrong. The knowledge, skills, and experience developed during a military career complement the industry experience of your cohort, and they will welcome your hard-won insights.

What are you hoping to achieve in the next two years, and beyond?

My most significant goal, using the Executive MBA as a vehicle to pivot from the Army to the technology sector, has been highly successful. My goal within the next two years is to consolidate and grow my new role at Google using my dissertation to the benefit of the business.

Additionally, the Executive MBA has introduced me to several networks and individuals with a mutual passion for supporting technology start-ups. The skills I have developed around finance and entrepreneurialism have given me a great foundation to begin my journey as an Angel Investor focussing on Defence and technology. Beyond this, I have little doubt that in the next five years, I will be founding my own technology venture. 

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