From Sandhurst to co-founding his own company, John Lodge discusses how he developed his second career thanks to the Warwick Business School (WBS) award with Heropreneurs.

In 2020 I co-founded a healthcare technology start-up while working full-time in the NHS. It very quickly began to grow, win awards and present new and exciting business opportunities.

Although very exciting, I increasingly found myself taking care of the business side of the venture and with this I became aware of my lack of experience and knowledge to do so in a way that would do justice to our work.

I had senior managerial experience from both the military and the NHS which was serving me well in the public sector, but the business was raising new challenges for which I felt unprepared. How do I develop a marketing strategy? What is the most appropriate supply chain model for us? How do I value my company? How do I analyse merger opportunities? Where do we position ourselves in the market? These were just a handful of the very real questions I was being expected to take a lead on answering. I knew I couldn’t continue to run the business on passion alone.

Fortunately, my military experience made me eligible for a Heropreneurs scholarship at WBS, which I applied for and was delighted to win in 2021. Of the six Executive Diploma options available, I chose Strategy & Innovation.

For me there was obvious utility in a formal business education to support the running of my business. I haven’t been disappointed. I regularly apply the theory learnt in class directly to my business, and many of my assessed essays relate to decisions I have had to make in the start-up. I found this essential when working full-time and having to be efficient with how I could use my time on the course. It has been seven years since I completed an MSc and I really enjoy returning to a learning environment.

There were logistical benefits too. The teaching location at the Shard is perfect for my London base, and modules are delivered in groups of four days with one teaching day falling on a Saturday. This makes them easy to plan for and to protect the time, but also requires me to take less annual leave.

It was also important for me to network with entrepreneurs and alumni who were taking personal risk with their own businesses and innovating in their own right. WBS advised the Executive Diploma in Strategy &d Innovation as the best course for this. I have met some really inspirational entrepreneurs on the course and I really appreciate the opportunities I have to discuss business issues with them at the Shard.

Finally, I should say that I have been so impressed with the standard of teaching at WBS. The lectures are excellent, and it feels a real privilege to have exclusive access into the experience and insight of the faculty on the course. The balance between theory and practice has for me struck an ideal balance between professional development and taking my business to the next level.

If you are a current or past member of the Armed Forces and are considering your post-military options, WBS are delighted to be sponsoring the Heropreneurs 2022 Awards. The winner of the WBS Award will receive a 100% bursary to study one of our highly ranked MBA or Executive Diploma programmes, while second place will receive a 75% bursary and third place will receive a 50% bursary.

The deadline to enter is Sunday 15 May 2022. Visit the Heropreneurs website for more information.