MBAfor Government (from a soldier’s point of view) Why would a career governmentemployee most especially a soldier take up an MBA? Oneof the most common misconceptions regarding the military is that it is onlyconcerned with warfighting, national defense and maintenance of peace. That istrue in a sense that those are its primary missions. To fulfill those missionshowever, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) does not just rely on itscapability in combat but also on other functions that support the success ofits objective. In a way, the AFP is also a business, a corporation and tocertain level a miniature national government. It has its own Human Resources Managementsystem, Marketing Department (Public Affairs and Civil Affairs), Law and Orderas well as Justice System (Military Police, Provost, Legal Officers), HealthServices (Medical Corps, Dental Corps and Veterinary Corps), ProfessionalTraining Branches (Philippine Military Academy, National Defense College of thePhilippines, Training and Doctrine Commands).
Food, munitions, fuel, equipment,weapons and its procurement and distribution are managed by military logisticiansand quartermasters that use principles of supply chain management to ensurethat units scattered across the archipelago are equipped to fulfill specificmissions. Transportation and deployment of personnel and equipment is availableby sea, air and land. Operational combat orders of an individual soldier at atactical level emanate downwards the chain of command from a grand strategy comingfrom the highest general and his staff. A simple decision of a soldier to killor treat a surrendering unarmed injured enemy is governed by Ethics. An act ofa commander to sacrifice his own life for the safety of his men is a value ofleadership.
A simple look at any MBA curriculum regardless of school would showthat the subjects offered in the program could (or would) provide the necessaryeducation and training to be more adept at the aforementioned aspects of themilitary. While the military doesnot provide much business training, it does instill qualities in its personnelthat businesses seek. Due to the similar skill sets in both fields, an MBA formilitary personnel should be anatural choice. Another common perception is that the military relies on itsrigid order system, with harsh sanctions to back it up. However, it can easilybe argued that command and control is only part of the picture.
Ed Robinson, veteran US Army special operationsteam leader and now Senior Vice President and Head of Mortgage,Fifth Third Bank inCincinnati Ohia, points to a different skill set: discerning what motivatessoldiers. He says that the most effectiveunits are successful because their leaders also have a clear understanding ofwhat motivates the soldiers under their command. For that reason, Robinson sees militaryleadership skills as not only comparable to business skills but perhaps evenbetter. Speaking to TheEconomist,he says “The military is simply better than business at getting people to dowhat you want them to do.
“That being said, many prospective MBA studentsassume that the lessons they will get in class would come solely from theirinstructors and and professors. In my experience, a large chunk of my knowledgegained at business school comes from my classmates with their insights andcontributions to classroom discussions. Effectiveleadership is perhaps the most important lesson military MBA students can passonto their civilian counterparts. Baron de Montesquieu, an enlightenmentphilosopher, once pointed out that a rational army would run away. So ifmilitary leaders can hold their subordinates on a battlefield when the logicalimperative suggests a rapid departure, getting a project team to complete ontime and to budget should be easy in comparison.Asenior military officer once told me, “The Philippine Military Academy is thebest leadership school in Asia, but a business school can make PMAyers evenbetter than the best”. An MBA education shouldn’t only be sought for theknowledge on how to increase profit. It should be pursued for a personal desire to instill positivechange in the organization he or she is in regardless if you’re in a privateenterprise or in government office.
After all, “Our Country is Our Business”