From the Battlefield to Bain & Company Via an MBA

From the Battlefield to Bain & Company Via an MBA

Chuck Wood used to command a 35-man force in Afghanistan. Now he solves problems for businesses at Bain & Company. 

He first signed up for service after watching his father, grandfather, uncles and cousins serve. “The military is the family business,” Wood says. “Growing up, I had a desire to pay my dues.” 

He graduated from US military academy in 2009 and was deployed to Jordan and Afghanistan where he served as platoon leader of soldiers who specialized in night-time helicopter raids to remove enemy commanders from the battlefield.

Wood enjoyed his time in service, but wanted to transition to private sector management. So he enrolled in an MBA program at Duke Fuqua in 2016. “I had leadership experience in high-pressure situations, but I didn’t have the hard skills, like accounting and finance, I needed to succeed.”

He received US$20,000 towards the program’s US$65,665 tuition fees through the GI Bill, a US government initiative which offers educational assistance to service members, veterans and their dependents.

The transition from military to civilian life has been, at times, challenging. “There is a sense of loss; you have an identity and uniform you put on every day; then you take it off, it goes in the closet and you have to think about finding a new identity,” Wood says.

He joined the Duke Armed Forces Association, which helps prospective students from military backgrounds compile résumés and connect with current students and alumni. “There’s a tremendous amount of support in the veterans’ community.”

The Association helped him connect with alumni at the management consultancy firm Bain & Co, which he joined in June as a summer associate. “Alumni helped me communicate my strengths and relevant military experiences,” Wood says. “Some skills are directly transferable: working with international teams, coaching people, managing relationships and the ability to work hard all transfer well.”

Wood, who has a wife and three children, is hoping for a full-time job offer. 

Seb Murray
Written by Seb Murray

Seb is a journalist and consulting editor who has developed a successful track record writing about business, education and technology for the international press.

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