Not Your Typical MBA Profile: How I Went From The Military To The C-Suite

EDHEC Business School values candidates from non-traditional backgrounds and recent grad, Nathan Neblett, is not your typical MBA

Business schools are increasingly aware that including more atypical profiles within MBA cohorts enriches the learning experience for students. The collision of perspectives from hugely varied professional backgrounds nurtures more complex, innovative discussions.

At EDHEC Business School in France, MBA candidates have on average eight years of experience from a wide range of sectors and jobs functions. EDHEC is also one of the most diverse business schools in the world, with international students comprising around 91% of the cohort and 36 different nationalities represented in a class of about 90.

Their varied experiences enable students to bring distinct insights to the classroom, and ensure a consistently high standard of thoughtful interaction.

Nathan Neblett exemplifies the non-traditional backgrounds of EDHEC's students that distinguishes the school, and the divergent career paths that MBA graduates can follow upon completion of the degree.

Nathan has over ten years of serving in the military, after which he served as operations director at the US Embassy in Madrid, Spain.

Once he'd graduated with an MBA from EDHEC Business school, Nathan wrote a book on what it means to be a leader and entered the c-suite, becoming interim CEO of a railroad holding company in the US.

BusinessBecause caught up with Nathan to find out more.


Tell us about your current role.

I decided to move to Fort Worth, Texas after the MBA. I had never lived there, so it was truly a new start. Developing a network in the area was key to learning about job opportunities.

I eventually connected with an executive recruiter, who recommended me for a seat on a board of directors. After serving on the board for six months, I was selected to serve as interim CEO to initiate a turnaround of the company. 

What inspired you to write a book on leadership after your MBA?

I wanted to develop a perspective on leadership that met people where they are in their leadership journey. The MBA director approved a final project for me to study this idea.

The study and thesis project became the basis for the book, 'What Leaders Are.' It begins with a hard look at what leadership really is, and then presents a way for anyone to begin to understand and study it, no matter who they are or what they do.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

After retiring from the military, I wanted to do something completely different. I recognized that, in order to make that change, I would need to learn some new skills.

An MBA seemed like the perfect way to spend time with people from various business sectors, while learning theory that would become immediately useful in a new profession.

Why did you choose EDHEC Business School?

The EDHEC MBA was the perfect blend of speed, cost, and international diversity. In one year, I would earn an MBA, enjoy career development assistance, and develop a new network around the world.

The cost was low and was further reduced by their generous scholarship policy. Add to this the opportunity to live in France for one year, and EDHEC was the perfect choice for someone looking to create a new way in life.

What stands out from your MBA experience at EDHEC?

The things we do throughout our lives are all very similar. School is no exception. It is the people that share the experience with us that makes it unique.

I cannot say enough positive things about my classmates at EDHEC Business School. I will always wish them the best and hope I can stay in touch with all of them as they discover their own versions of success.

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