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Former British Army Officer On Tackling An MBA

Anthony Clark-Jones is using the MBA as a launch pad into the corporate world

By  Harriet Murdoch

Tue Nov 8 2011

Military man Anthony Clark-Jones, who won a full scholarship to the Manchester Business School MBA, tells us how the army prepared him for corporate life.

Anthony, 28, is a former British Army Officer who holds a BA in Politics from the University of York and an MSc in Public Policy from UCL. What does he believe the Army has taught him in transferable business skills?

For Anthony the MBA “is the foundation of my transition from the military into the corporate world. For me, it’s partly like learning a new language, and partly developing skills specific to analysis, operations and development in the corporate world.”

Having spent five and a half years in the army, working and training in countries as diverse as Belize and Afghanistan, Anthony began the search for his ideal business school. “I looked at Manchester Business School, Said, Warwick, Judge and London Business School. Manchester Business School was the first school I applied to and as they offered me a full scholarship, in addition to MBS offering me other key advantages, I didn’t apply to any other schools.”

The factors Anthony took into consideration when he chose Manchester Business School were “the components of the course, the reputation of the school, the people running the school and their aspirations for the future of the school, the academics teaching on the course, the cost of the course and the location of the school.”

Manchester’s culture appealed to Anthony, he says it is down-to-earth, practically focused, forward-thinking and achievement-orientated. “Manchester Business School is also regarded as a leading business school, and given they offered me a scholarship that covers the entirety of the MBA course fees, it was an excellent package.”

Alongside the core modules of micro and macro economics, marketing, corporate finance and accounting; Anthony is taking part in two team-based projects. A mergers and acquisitions project and a real-time consultancy project for a leading not-for-profit organisation. “On top of this we have on-going career workshops and regular talks given by leading figures from a range of business sectors.”

As part of his scholarship application Anthony offered to contribute to the business school by developing and running the ‘Young Potential Leaders’ mentorship program. He explains, “MBS selects a handful of candidates each year who have relatively less professional experience than normally expected of an MBA candidate, are typically no older than in their early-to-mid-20s, but nonetheless have an outstanding academic, professional and extra-curricular record and the aspirations to excel in their chosen professional fields after the MBA.”

These candidates are awarded a scholarship in recognition of their potential and Anthony founded the Young Potential Leaders mentorship programme with “the intention of using my leadership experiences as an Army Officer to help these people develop their understanding of leadership, their own leadership style, and ultimately help them to realise their potential.”

So, how does time in the army prepare one for business school? Anthony told me that as an Army Officer you learn skills and develop traits that are highly transferable to business school and the corporate world in general. “Team-work and leadership clearly translate, as does being very organised and understanding the necessity of contingency plans in a highly pressurised environment.

"Paying attention to detail is useful in any professional field, and it’s likewise highly beneficial to be proficient at building and maintaining relationships and upholding high standards of personal and professional integrity.”

But the most transferable trait from the Army to business school “is the selfless attitude and enduring work ethic that places any deadlines and objectives for your team before your own personal wants and needs.”

Anthony would recommend Manchester Business School to anyone who is interested in enhancing what they can professionally offer to any organsation through a ‘learning-by-doing’ environment. “In other words, the ‘Manchester Method’ is not abstract theory. It is, however, very much about understanding useful theoretical frameworks and then applying them to real-life situations whilst working projects with leading organisations.’

What does the future hold for Anthony? Well, in five to ten years time he hopes to be professionally established in his chosen field, “Ideally my role will be in an environment that values original but realistic thinking, one that strives to put into operation socially conscious solutions to real-life difficulties, and one that requires building effective teams and getting the most out of them.”

Having travelled all over the world with the Army, Anthony has his sights set on a few possibilities for work. “Where I’d like to be and where I think I’ll be are probably two different things. I’d love to live in New York. I went there for a few weeks a couple of years ago; the energy in Manhattan is awesome and being a British Army Captain was very well received! I also loved Buenos Aires, so if I could pick, then either of these would be great.”

Anthony says that it is more realistic to look to the opportunities of the emerging markets in South America, and given that he is a fluent Spanish speaker this makes sense. “North America is also somewhere I’d like to consider; from what I’ve seen, I admire the work ethic and aspiration to achieve. But I’m also quite patriotic, and I’m close to my family, so the UK is always going to be an option as well.”


More stories about students, alumni and programmes at Manchester Business School here