From Army Officer to Site Manager, with the help of the Full-time MBA

17 January 2020

WBS Alumni Richard Inman, describes how studying the Full-time MBA helped him move on from a rewarding career in the Army to a leading role at Amazon. 

I graduated from Warwick Business School (WBS) in 2015, after a full-on and exciting year on the Full-time MBA programme, which opened my eyes to a world of opportunity. As a retired Army officer, I was very fortunate to have a world-class education in leadership and management at a young age. My service ensured I got to apply this learning in austere theatres worldwide and I’m forever grateful to the incredible soldiers I was fortunate enough to serve with and lead, and the officers that charged me to do so. They are memories I will cherish forever.

After such an incredibly intense and rewarding first career, I then faced a question which challenges almost every veteran that chooses to pursue a different path, having done all of the things they enlisted to do: “How and where can I flourish in a second career, and what do I need to learn to get there?”

Competing for roles with people that had far greater industry and commercial experience than I did was a daunting prospect. How could I differentiate myself? I was certain I could play to my strengths, but understanding and addressing those “areas for improvement” we all have? That felt key to ensuring I could continue to add value. After a period of introspection, and engaging with some very helpful service-leavers further along than myself, I understood that developing a broader understanding of business would be necessary to succeed. A consistent message was that an MBA might get me there faster than any other route, as it would cover many areas that were outside my former experiences.

On the first day at WBS, it was clear how much I’d be learning, not only from the faculty and course material, but also from my cohort. My class of 55 consisted of 45 nationalities, from a myriad of industries! From Finance to Marketing, IT to Operations and beyond, across a broad international cross-section of businesses. This environment ensured there was always support on the modules I found most challenging, as there was always someone in the classroom I could learn from!

The next WBS benefit which I hadn’t reckoned with was the first-class Careers department. Over the course of the year, they exposed me to numerous sectors and industries outside of class, and dozens of networking opportunities – often with WBS alumni. They also taught me how to communicate and sell the skills I already had, and those I was learning on the course. This invaluable knowledge has been instrumental in finding and securing the right roles since graduating. During my MBA, I also led the WBS Case Challenge at The Shard, participated in exchanges at Mannheim Business School in Germany, and spent a week visiting Vancouver’s Business School (and got a cheeky day of Snowboarding in whilst at Whistler!).

Whilst the MBA was an unmatched opportunity to be educated in Strategy, Finance, International Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Sustainability (to name but a few of the modules), it was the combination of this with all the aforementioned benefits which made the course truly life-changing. I started to learn, think and communicate in a whole new way, and with a whole new understanding which I couldn’t have gained anywhere else.

Toward the end of the second term, I was successful in landing a role on Amazon’s Pathways Leadership Programme, designed to take its participants on a journey from Operations Manager to Site General Manager over five years. This transpired to be an awesome experience, where I transitioned onto a very steep learning curve and within a year was leading a team of over 1,000 staff in peak business periods. I simply would not have had this opportunity (or have survived it) without the MBA experience.

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