“I love the global aspect of LBS; I’ve lived in Germany and Bermuda and served in Afghanistan and South Korea. I’m drawn to international business and learning from other cultures.”
Leading others is familiar territory for Brady Dearden, a former Company Commander in the US Army. While stationed in Seoul, South Korea (2015–17), he had 105 American and 25 Korean soldiers under his command. He was also a Black Hawk helicopter pilot, flying soldiers to and from mission landing zones for day- and night-time operations.
Dearden, who has since left the US Army to take the MBA at London Business School (LBS), says the leadership insights he gained while serving his country apply to business. “The drive, team goals and metrics you get in both fields are very similar,” he says.
“In the military, you have different cultures working together and, as a leader, you learn about what’s important to those you serve. You need to tap into that to make sure everyone’s going in the same direction. Leadership is about service above self, being humble and listening to others – and that’s true for both the military and business.”
After leaving the US Army in July 2017, Dearden was studying at LBS just one month later. The decision to go to business school before starting a new career was made long before then. Dearden had flirted with the idea of doing an MBA in 2014, but he decided to go for it three years later when recruiters from LBS visited Seoul. “They were really engaging and the international opportunities seemed boundless. The possibilities in education and experience, coupled with the friendly community of LBS, attracted me to the School.”
Relocating to London from South Korea and starting the programme while acclimatising to civilian life was challenging. “The first semester was like a tidal wave,” Dearden admits. “I knew it would be hard, but finding my feet with the programme was really intense and fun. I love the global aspect of LBS; I’ve lived in Germany and Bermuda and served in Afghanistan and South Korea. I’m drawn to international business and learning from other cultures.”
The cosmopolitan nature of LBS is reflected in Dearden’s study group, which comprises an Indian, Brazilian, Canadian, Icelander and Briton. Their time spent together during the first year of school forged close bonds and many memories. “I’m pretty good friends with each member,” Dearden says, “and they have been a great source of support during the MBA.”
In the classroom, Dearden has appreciated being part of a multicultural cohort. “Everyone comes from different cultures or industry backgrounds, and they all bring something of value,” he says. “You quickly learn to listen to people to understand what they’re saying rather than just hearing their words. We may disagree when working on a project or debating something in a lecture, but you always find a way to learn and move forward together.”
As well as working closely with his classmates, Dearden has also forged strong relationships with faculty. He has appreciated learning personally from Professors Dan Cable and Alex Edmans about leadership and how to inspire people in business. Moreover, Dearden has gained insights into leading organisations after courses on managing change and start-up success from Professors Raina Brands and Gary Dushnitsky, respectively.
Once he finishes the MBA, Dearden will head to Washington D.C. to join Lockheed Martin as a cybersecurity analyst. He has some relevant experience from his military days and wrote a thesis on cybersecurity while doing a master’s degree at Cambridge. It’s another area of interest for Dearden, who through his network as vice president of the Tech Club at LBS, had the opportunity to intern at Lockheed in summer 2018.
“I had a great experience with the team in Washington,” he says. “I’ll be working full-time in cyber security for Lockheed Martin, and I look forward to the adventure ahead.”
Dearden also continues to work with Service to School (S2S), helping US veterans with their university or business school applications. “While in the army, I was mentored by a veteran at a US business school. He helped me review my essays and applications for business school. When I came to LBS, I thought I should give something back by helping others. I’m now working with a Navy veteran who’s applying for university in the US and hopefully doing for him what my mentor did for me.”