Using the Executive MBA as the catalyst for a career pivot

21 June 2023

Luke Parker, British Army Major, Head of Geospatial Analytics and Strategy at NATO’s Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, and winner of the Heropreneurs WBS Bursary Award, discusses his Executive MBA journey so far. 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 completing a year of leadership training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, I was commissioned into the Corps of Royal Engineers. During the last decade, I have completed a variety of roles within Search and Explosive Ordnance Disposal, combat engineering, and international capacity building, but I have now found my niche specialising in data analytics.  

What first attracted you to Warwick Business School?

Initially, I was daunted by the volume of MBA programmes on offer. What drew me to WBS was the impressive Financial Times programme rankings. Additionally, the British Army has a great relationship with Warwick Business School and has previously sent people 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 wasn't in a position to 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. The WBS team were extremely supportive during every step of the application, and I felt really supported. I was working in the U.S. when I received a call from the WBS team congratulating me on being selected as their MBA Award winner; I have never been so happy to be woken up at 6am.  

What inspired you to take on your Executive MBA? 

As a military veteran looking to complete a career pivot, I decided that an Executive MBA would be the catalyst to supercharge my new career. I was inspired to undertake a programme that would allow me to study without interrupting a full-time job, while allowing me opportunities to study abroad and exposure to global networks. Furthermore, I would learn alongside hugely 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’. I liked that almost all my new knowledge and perspectives could immediately be applied to my job.  

Were your first classes what you expected? 

No. My only previous experience with university classes was as an undergraduate whose interaction with the faculty was diluted by the 200 other students on the course - my Executive MBA class size is 17. The lessons were much more tailored to our experience in the room. The tone was more conversational, and I don’t think anyone left the first day without having all of their questions and thoughts thoroughly explored.   

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

At this early stage, I’m enjoying getting to know my coursemates through group work exercises. A considerable part of the MBA is the wealth of experience each student body brings. Seeing how those from other countries and industries think and problem-solve is extremely interesting. Many of those I work with within the military have a similar way of thinking, and I have found it hugely beneficial to get a new perspective. 

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

The Executive MBA programme will be one of the most significant investments you can make in yourself. To that end, give yourself the time and respect you deserve to get the most out of it. Sometimes, you will have to amend your lifestyle to achieve the end goal of an improved you.  

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

My most immediate goal is to use the Executive MBA programme to successfully transition from the British Army into a new career in the technology sector. My ultimate goal is to launch my start-up to improve land-use using spatial analytics and remote sensing.  

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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