St. Cyr Coëtquidan: Military Bootcamp for MBAs

By Matthew Werner, Global MBA Student 2012-2013

Building an extension bridge in the pouring rain.  Making a raft out of canteens and rowing across a lake. Riding horses.  Building a tent to provide shelter from the rain while we slept. Transporting a classmate in a makeshift stretcher through a muddy river. Eating Army rations.  What place do these military activities occupy in a Global MBA program curriculum?  Actually, these military exercises illustrated an essential quality that all executives should possess—excellent leadership and the ability to work with a team.

Last Sunday the Global MBA students embarked on a bus trip to Saint Cyr Military Academy at Coëtquidan where we spent 3 days working together in teams to complete military exercises that most of us had never contemplated before and quite frankly did not expect to conquer as part of our MBA program.

All of the students were in adventurous moods and were excited to dive into their military tasks.  We quickly got into the spirit when our military fatigues were issued on Sunday evening—and were not taken off until Wednesday afternoon once they were completely caked in mud.

The various exercises pushed all of us students to our physical and mental limitations.  We would not have been able to complete the tasks without the effective leadership of our team leader and the cooperation of our team as a whole.  Over the course of the 3 days at Saint Cyr we got to know our classmates’ strengths and weaknesses and learned to use this knowledge to our team’s advantage.

The combined skill-sets of the class would allow us to effectively and profitably manage an international business collectively, but at the outset you wouldn’t think that these skills would help us at a military camp.   However, our experience at Saint Cyr taught us that with dynamic leadership and teamwork each team members’ individual skills can be harnessed to work together and meet the common goal and get us all across the lake on our homemade raft!

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