Senior leaders are drawing on business experience to transform the military. The Navy should seize every opportunity to provide its officers with business education, such as programs leading to masters in business administration.
Why does a naval officer need a master's in business administration? During my time in business school, I was asked this question more than any other. Many in the Navy are skeptical of the relevance of an MBA—much less an MBA from a civilian university—to a military career. Considering most naval officers are academically grounded in engineering and the humanities, this skepticism is intuitive. An MBA is appropriate for companies who recruit personnel to manage the bottom line, but is it appropriate for war fighters?
On the surface, it is difficult to see the link, but an MBA provides a much broader education than simply textbook finance, accounting, and marketing. It also develops skills that can be applied across the range of naval officer roles and responsibilities, and it can provide warriors with a diverse, flexible, and practical skill set critical for effective decision making at sea and ashore.