From the military to consulting: My journey to WBS through Heropreneurs

06 February 2024

Heropreneurs award winner Jake Ardley reflects on his journey leading up to winning his scholarship and explores why the Executive MBA was the best next step after his military career.

The journey from military to civilian is rarely seamless and without challenges. It is a journey full of potential, but takes patience, perseverance and commitment to get right. From the disciplined life as Corps Adjutant of the Royal Logistic Corps, to the dynamic world of consulting with McKinsey & Company, my journey has been both challenging and rewarding. This journey, marked by significant learning and adaptation, was greatly facilitated by the incredible opportunity to pursue an MBA with Warwick Business School (WBS), courtesy of their partnership with Heropreneurs.

Your Military Foundations

As with most veterans, serving time in the military equipped me with a unique set of skills and a perspective that I deeply value. The leadership, discipline, and resilience developed during this time laid a solid foundation for my career. However, the decision to transition to civilian life was driven by a desire for new challenges and the realisation that the civilian project environment required a different approach. The journey from military to civilian life was about to begin, and it was clear that education would play a pivotal role in my transition.

Transition Challenges

Transitioning wasn't easy. My initial move into the logistics industry felt like a natural progression from my military role, yet something was missing. Seeking fulfilment, I ventured into the startup world, which was enlightening but still not the perfect fit and I never quite found the camaraderie that I shared with my fellow soldiers and officers. This phase was crucial, as it was filled with introspection and learning.

Here are three tips that I found invaluable during my transition:

  • Clarity amidst overwhelm: In the sea of available resources, finding clear, impactful guidance is crucial. I learned to seek out mentors and programmes specifically designed for veterans, which provided the direction I needed.
  • Adapting military skills: The leap from military to civilian roles involves translating innate military skills into a new context. For me, understanding how to adjust my leadership style and strategic thinking for the corporate world was key.
  • Commitment to lifelong learning: Embracing education as a continuous journey was a game-changer. Engaging with the project management and consulting communities, sharing experiences, and learning from others have been fundamental to my success. The Warwick MBA has been fundamental in the development of my business knowledge, and has kept me true to my commitment to learn.

The Role of Education: Warwick Business School's Executive MBA

The turning point came when I was presented with the opportunity to apply to win a scholarship to pursue an MBA at WBS. This experience was made possible through their collaboration with Heropreneurs, a charity dedicated to supporting veterans in their entrepreneurial and educational endeavours.

The MBA not only broadened my business acumen but also provided a structured framework to refine my skills and interests. It was during this time that I developed a profound understanding of my capabilities and how they align with the consulting world. Without embracing this, I do not think I’d be where I am today and am forever grateful for the opportunity.

Armed with new knowledge and a clearer sense of direction, I embarked on the journey to join McKinsey & Company. The transition from the military to consulting was complex, yet the MBA experience was instrumental in bridging the gap. It helped me articulate the value of my military experience in a business context and navigate the rigorous selection process. Today, I look back and recognise how the discipline, leadership, and strategic thinking fostered in the Army, combined with the insights and knowledge gained through the MBA, paved the way for a successful career in consulting.

Embrace Opportunity

As WBS and Heropreneurs offer this amazing opportunity yet again, I encourage ALL military personnel to apply and give this opportunity a shot. You could just well be the winner, just like I was in 2019. The partnership between WBS and Heropreneurs is an excellent starting point, offering support and opportunities to those looking to redefine their careers post-military.

I know how tough the transition journey can be, but also how amazingly rewarding it can be. To give back to the military community, I am personally supporting 1,000 service leavers and veterans break into the world of project management and consulting, by providing practical tips, strategies, and insights into my work on some of the most complex projects and programme in the world. To learn a little more, visit or email me at

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