Nominations are now open for the Heropreneurs’ Warwick Business School Bursary – Virtual Awards 2020, which celebrates Armed Forces veterans who have become successful business leaders.

The Warwick Business School Award offers ex-Armed Forces personnel and their spouses the chance to win a scholarship for the Warwick MBA, or a Warwick Executive Diploma, 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.”

Watch: Introducing the Warwick Executive Diplomas

In March 2019 he embarked on an Executive MBA at Warwick Business School’s London campus at The Shard after being named a runner-up in the 2018 Heropreneur Awards and winning a scholarship.

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.
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.”

Watch: Which MBA is right for me?

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 and their spouses 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 £51,450, or a Warwick Executive Diploma worth £18,000.

The deadline for entries is Sunday 25 October 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. Or for the first time in 2020, they can elect to study one of the school’s shorter more focused Executive Diplomas in Strategic Leadership, Strategy & Innovation, Organisational Change or Digital Leadership.

The winner of the full bursary will be announced via the Virtual Awards on December 14 2020, following a screening and interview process by a panel of judges from across the business world.

To have a chance of winning a 100 per cent bursary, click here to fill in the application form for your chosen programme.