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Business education fit for heroes

  • Story Highlights
  • New business school scholarship honors Marine killed in Iraq
  • Captain Robert M. Secher helped set up joint Wharton-Marines course
  • Scholarship gives Marine free executive education program
  • Next Article in World Business »
By Peter Walker for CNN
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- There are many superficial similarities between the worlds of the military and business, something Captain Robert M. Secher of the U.S. Marines knew only too well.

art.marines.jpg

U.S. Marines on an operation in Iraq.

Secher was one of the instigators of the so-called Quantico Leadership Venture, an innovative cooperation between the Marine Corps' Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia, and the University of Pennsylvania's top-rated Wharton School of Business.

The outdoor-based course, intended to show Wharton students how Marine-style leadership principles and teamwork can help in business, has proved enormously popular.

Tragically, Secher can no longer appreciate the success of his initiative -- a year ago, while serving in Iraq he was killed by a sniper's bullet in Anbar province, in the west of the country. He was aged 33.

Wharton has decided to give something back in appreciation of Secher and has just announced a new scholarship in his honor.

The Captain Robert M. Secher Scholarship will allow one Marine Corps officer per year take a Wharton Executive Education course, something that would normally cost many thousands of dollars.

Secher's parents attended the ceremony where officials announced the new scholarship.

"We are proud that he did such a good job and that he will be remembered," said his mother, Elke Morris.

More than 1,000 Wharton MBA students have taken part in the Quantico Leadership Venture since it was set up eight years ago. Such is the program's popularity that each year more than 500 students apply for the 180 spaces available.

"Our partnership with the USMC (U.S. Marine Corps) and Officer Candidate School has greatly benefited our students and the USMC, with Marine officers participating every year in our leadership conference" said Jeff Klein, director of the Wharton Graduate Leadership Program.

"To say that the investment both Capt. Secher and the Marines have made in our students is unparalleled would be an understatement."

Fact Box

FT MBA Rankings
1. Wharton, U.S.
2. Columbia, U.S.
3. Harvard, U.S.
4. Stanford GSB, U.S.
5. London Business School, UK
6. Chicago GSB, U.S.
7. Insead, France/Singapore
8. Stern, NYU, U.S.
9. Tuck, Dartmouth, U.S.
10. Yale, U.S.
Source: Financial Times 2007

The courts focuses on the Marine Corps' "values of honor, courage, and commitment," said Klein. "Courage, we say, is about making a difference, and we're proud to honor Capt. Secher and the USMC for making a difference with our students and in the world."

While Secher's links with the business education world were closer than most, his contribution in combining the military and commercial worlds is not unique.

For example, the UK's Cranfield Business School has recently begun running a specialist MBA for senior military officers in association with the British military's own leadership college.

Closer to Secher, fellow Marine Captain Erik Orient - who attended the announcement about the new scholarship - mused on the subject in Wharton's Leadership Digest journal.

Until recently, he admitted, "I thought the Corps had cornered the market on leadership [and] any leadership civilians did was merely 'management'."

He added: "But as I began to encounter more academic and business professionals through my teaching work, I became more introspective, reevaluating my own leadership style." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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