MBA Affairs and Civil Affairs), Law and Order as

MBA
for Government (from a soldier’s point of view)

 

Why would a career government
employee most especially a soldier take up an MBA?

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One
of the most common misconceptions regarding the military is that it is only
concerned with warfighting, national defense and maintenance of peace. That is
true in a sense that those are its primary missions. To fulfill those missions
however, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) does not just rely on its
capability in combat but also on other functions that support the success of
its objective. In a way, the AFP is also a business, a corporation and to
certain level a miniature national government. It has its own Human Resources Management
system, Marketing Department (Public Affairs and Civil Affairs), Law and Order
as well as Justice System (Military Police, Provost, Legal Officers), Health
Services (Medical Corps, Dental Corps and Veterinary Corps), Professional
Training Branches (Philippine Military Academy, National Defense College of the
Philippines, Training and Doctrine Commands). Food, munitions, fuel, equipment,
weapons and its procurement and distribution are managed by military logisticians
and quartermasters that use principles of supply chain management to ensure
that units scattered across the archipelago are equipped to fulfill specific
missions. Transportation and deployment of personnel and equipment is available
by sea, air and land. Operational combat orders of an individual soldier at a
tactical level emanate downwards the chain of command from a grand strategy coming
from the highest general and his staff. A simple decision of a soldier to kill
or treat a surrendering unarmed injured enemy is governed by Ethics. An act of
a commander to sacrifice his own life for the safety of his men is a value of
leadership. A simple look at any MBA curriculum regardless of school would show
that the subjects offered in the program could (or would) provide the necessary
education and training to be more adept at the aforementioned aspects of the
military. While the military does
not provide much business training, it does instill qualities in its personnel
that businesses seek. Due to the similar skill sets in both fields, an MBA for
military personnel should be a
natural choice.

Another common perception is that the military relies on its
rigid order system, with harsh sanctions to back it up. However, it can easily
be argued that command and control is only part of the picture. Ed Robinson, veteran US Army special operations
team leader and now Senior Vice President and Head of Mortgage,
Fifth Third Bank in
Cincinnati Ohia, points to a different skill set: discerning what motivates
soldiers. He says that the most effective
units are successful because their leaders also have a clear understanding of
what motivates the soldiers under their command.  For that reason, Robinson sees military
leadership skills as not only comparable to business skills but perhaps even
better. Speaking to The
Economist,
he says “The military is simply better than business at getting people to do
what you want them to do.”

That being said, many prospective MBA students
assume that the lessons they will get in class would come solely from their
instructors and and professors. In my experience, a large chunk of my knowledge
gained at business school comes from my classmates with their insights and
contributions to classroom discussions. Effective
leadership is perhaps the most important lesson military MBA students can pass
onto their civilian counterparts. Baron de Montesquieu, an enlightenment
philosopher, once pointed out that a rational army would run away. So if
military leaders can hold their subordinates on a battlefield when the logical
imperative suggests a rapid departure, getting a project team to complete on
time and to budget should be easy in comparison.

A
senior military officer once told me, “The Philippine Military Academy is the
best leadership school in Asia, but a business school can make PMAyers even
better than the best”. An MBA education shouldn’t only be sought for the
knowledge on how to increase profit. It should be pursued  for a personal desire to instill positive
change in the organization he or she is in regardless if you’re in a private
enterprise or in government office. After all, “Our Country is Our Business”

 

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