Time to make a change – My post-army Executive MBA journey

23 March 2022

Heropreneurs award winner Jake Ardley explores why the Executive MBA was the best next step after his military career.

I remember sitting on the sofa as a young teenager, with my parents, as we discussed what I might want to do after education, when an exhilarating Royal Air Force advert came on. “You could be a pilot in the RAF”, said my stepfather, after which my mother sighed. We then got onto the topic of entrepreneurs and the idea made me excited, and has stayed with me since.

Fast-forward a few years, I found talent in music and spent my college years studying music performance and touring the UK with my old band. I hadn’t wanted to go to university after college; a combination of increased fees and lack of clarity of what I wanted to do kept me back but instead, I took interest in joining the British Army - clearly my stepfather’s comments stayed with me somewhat.

I started at Sandhurst age 20, commissioning into the Royal Logistic Corps a year later as a Second Lieutenant. I requested to join the Army’s professional logistics arm for two reasons; I liked the people, and I knew almost everything needed logistics.

My Army career whizzed by and saw me travel to Canada, France and Germany, guard the Queen’s Palaces, train new Army recruits and help support the military’s effort in combating COVID-19, but after seven years, I was ready for change and began to explore my options.

It was at this point that I thought back to the comments on entrepreneurship as a teenager. I had formed a few ideas in my head but wanted firstly to develop a greater understanding of a business operation before starting my own.

As I scrolled LinkedIn for inspiration, I came across the military charity Heropreneurs and subsequently, their sponsored Warwick Business School (WBS) MBA Award (a 100% scholarship). I was blown away that something so significant was available to a worthy candidate with a military background and a few weeks later I had applied, and was moving quickly through the selection process.

I was greeted by so many energetic and interesting staff members from WBS with every single one wanting to help me. After a delightful interview with Karen Barker, Director of Recruitment and Marketing at WBS, and the Heropreneurs’ Board assessing the candidates, I was informed that I was the 2021 winner of the award and I was absolutely over the moon.

To me, the award was much more than just an opportunity to learn about business operations. It was a chance to expand my network, meet enthusiastic and intelligent people and keep building towards my goal of running my own company in supply chain and logistics.

I may only be at the beginning of my studies but cannot emphasise enough how enjoyable it has been and would encourage anyone who is considering an MBA with WBS to take the leap. For those from the military community who are curious – reach out, apply and most importantly, back yourself. You have so much to give. Your experience is unique and you should be proud of your background.

WBS is delighted to be sponsoring the Heropreneurs 2023 Awards. The winner of the WBS Award will receive a 100% bursary to study one of our MBA or Executive Diploma programmes, while the runner-up will be awarded a substantial 75% bursary, and the third-place contender will receive a generous 50% bursary.

Applications to apply for the 2023 WBS Heropreneurs Bursary Awards is Sunday 30th July. For more information, please visit the Heropreneurs website.

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