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MBA Applicant Voice: Ex-US Navy Technician Sets Sights On Digital Economy

US-based MBA applicant Edward S. Gilbert spent years in the Navy and later at Fidelity Investments, but is pursuing an MBA to move into digital entrepreneurship.

Edward S. Gilbert Jr’s time in the US Naval Submarine Service, where he worked as an underwater fire control technician, taught him valuable lessons that extend far beyond technical skills. 
He was not only instilled with the discipline and dedication associated with Navy life, but he also understood the importance of team work, which has played a role in his career at Fidelity Investments, the leading asset manager.
He has also enjoyed a diverse range of roles, including working as a communication consultant in a US Senator’s political campaign.
Now, he wants to pursue an MBA to capitalize on the new digital economy, and plans to launch a start-up which designs “hacker-safe” IT solutions.
You have worked for the US Navy and the Army. How was the experience? Are there any skills that you think are transferable to business?
Yes – my experience in the US Naval Submarine Service set up my success later at Fidelity Investments and Genetic Microsystems [a manufacturing company]. I was able to learn things quickly, and apply them.  
Both military experiences showed the leadership, dedication and work it takes to achieve. If you’re willing to commit or give it 100%, [you can] build and inspire a team to give that same 100%. It help others achieve and excel, [and] it creates an addictive business model of success. 
You want to keep building and improving that business model in other endeavours as you move forward in your career. I am at a point now where I want to build a company or companies which leave an impact in their industries.
Why did you leave the US Naval Submarine Service and join Fidelity Investments?
Lack of growth and upward movement. I left the Navy due to wanting to get my undergraduate degree. I was tired of following or being forced to follow people who were not very good leaders, let alone [good] at inspiring me for upward growth. 
I left Fidelity Investments for a $20,000 pay increase and a leadership role in a [different] company.
You have had a wide variety of career experiences – would you say that this diversity has helped shape your career decisions, and if so how?
Yes. With any experience you always come off with positives and negatives. Each experience builds the person or leader you would like to be. 
The team-building in the US Navy had an impact later in my career at Fidelity Investments, [where I was] delivering software to a critical deadline. It is that experience that has made me seek the same kind of mentorship in a leadership role, in a company or industry. 
Your educational background is largely in technology. Why do you want to pursue an MBA now?
IT has finally evolved from a support unit within a business model to the driving force of that business model. With my experience and background in leadership roles it is time for me to develop management teams who can generate the kind of returns and success that my team achieved at Fidelity Investments – generating $200+ billion within a year.
Which business schools are you planning to apply to?
Dartmouth [Tuck], Notre Dame [Mendoza College of Business] and Stanford [Graduate School of Business], among others. These schools offer leadership, [and help] in developing digital or IT-driven business models.
What are the most important factors you considered when shortlisting these schools?
The professors within the degree pipeline, [and] the leadership that a school has in the directions and industries I hope to advance [in].
What do you want to do after completing your MBA?
Build companies that will capitalize on the new digital economy. I plan on designing profitable business models to generate wealth for their shareholders, and a start-up of my own, designing hacker-safe [IT] solutions.
You have worked in the technology sector for large corporations, as well as in an independent technology contractor’s role. How were both experiences different? 
Access to capital. It is the key factor to successfully comple or reach goals and objectives. I miss the days of having access to the capital like Fidelity Investments, US Navy, US Army and other companies [do].
It is almost impossible to achieve success without having access to capital. The majority of my success [was] well-funded, [and] the vast majority of my failures were due to not having access to capital. 
Without any funding, dreams are just that – dreams.