Military veteran begins MBA with Heropreneur bursary

08 May 2019

Nominations are now open for the Heropreneurs Awards, sponsored by Warwick Business School, which celebrates Armed Forces veterans who have become successful business leaders.

The Warwick Business School Award offers ex-Armed Forces personnel the chance to win a scholarship for the Warwick MBA to further their career. Captain Peter Gordon-Finlayson, a bursary winner in 2018, shares his story.

Even the pressure of running a business cannot compare to being engulfed in an explosion in Afghanistan.

Peter Gordon-Finlayson, then a lieutenant and vehicle commander, was leading a mounted patrol when their Scimitar Mk2 was rocked by an IED, leaving the crew stunned but unscathed.

Peter said: “It felt like a car crash. It took me a few moments to take it all in, but our training soon kicked in.

“After checking that everyone was unharmed it only took about 30 seconds for the jokes to start.

“I came out of that relieved to be alive. Sadly, a friend was later killed in a similar incident. It made us realise how lucky we had been.

“Those experiences shape you as an individual. You know yourself that much better as a result.”

Peter now puts his experience to good use as Director of Operations for security consultancy Sibylline in London. The company specialises in geo-political risk, advising multinational companies how to operate safely around the world.

In March he embarked on an Executive MBA at Warwick Business School’s London campus at The Shard after being named a runner-up at last year’s Heropreneur Awards and winning a 50 per cent scholarship.

Peter said: “I was delighted to win the scholarship, and the MBA is providing a massive boost to my career which I would never have been able to achieve without the help of the Heropreneurs Awards."

Peter joined the Army on a four-year commission in 2009. After completing his basic training at Sandhurst he joined the cavalry, which specialises in armoured vehicles.

He was then posted to Germany as a troop leader with 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards, helping to prepare them for deployment in Afghanistan as part of Operation Herrick 15 in October 2011.

Related course: Executive MBA

After Peter returned from the Middle East, he was posted to the Army Foundation College in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, to train 16-17 year-olds who had just joined the Army.

When his commission ended, he decided to leave the Army in September 2013.

He said: “I felt lucky I’d had quite a varied career and had achieved everything I wanted.

“I decided I wasn’t going to stay in the Army forever, so leaving early and getting stuck into a civilian career was an exciting next step.

“It was a challenge adjusting to civilian life after four years living, breathing and working in a military microcosm, but being creative with the skills the Army taught me helped me make that transition.”

Peter’s first role after leaving the Army was a short internship at management consultancy Capco. Despite enjoying the experience, he realised the financial sector it specialised in was not for him.

Instead he accepted a smaller salary to join a security start-up, Sibylline.

Peter said: “It was a slightly mad decision, but one I was happy to make. I knew I would work harder and feel more fulfilled if I was passionate about my job. The company has grown significantly since then, but I still find it fascinating.

“One of the things the Army teaches you is a systematic approach to problem solving.

“That has really helped me in my current role. Each business problem I have faced required a slightly different interpretation of the Army’s planning model.

“I’m really looking forward to bringing some of those skills to bear during my MBA course, as well as looking at business from a non-military angle, learning about best practice.”

Military veterans have the chance to launch their own business with the help of a full bursary to do a Warwick Business School MBA – worth up to £45,230.

The deadline for entries is May 24 with the winner able to choose from the school’s highly-ranked one-year Full-time MBA, part-time two-year Executive MBA, held at Warwick or The Shard in London, or Distance Learning MBA, which is taught online.

The winner of the full bursary will be announced at the Heropreneurs Awards held in association with The Telegraph in London.

To have a chance of winning a 100 per cent bursary to do an MBA, click here to fill in an application form.

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