Retired four-star general and former CIA Director David Petraeus spoke to students in the Master of Business for Veterans (MBV) program at the USC Marshall School of Business late last week, sharing his views on strategic leadership at is applies to business.
Fifty active-duty military members and veterans make up Marshall’s one-year MBV program, now in its second year. The MBV program caters to current and former military who want to build foundational management skills while also learning how to transfer the management and leadership experience gained through their service to the private sector.
Petraeus, who spent more than 37 years in the military and 14 months as CIA director, also holds a PhD from Princeton University. Since retiring from the military – where he led the counterinsurgency efforts credited with stabilizing Iraq – he has taken on a range of civilian roles, including with a global financial firm, academic institutions such as USC and veterans’ organizations.
Petraeus believes that energy, information technology, life sciences and advanced manufacturing are on the cusp of a revolution, one he believes will be fueled by U.S. leadership. He shared this thesis, which he calls “The Coming North American Decades,” with Marshall MBV students on November 7th. Alongside a period of sustained growth in the United States, the Canadian and Mexican economies are also strong, while other economies are faltering.
“You’ll have all of this together truly changing the business landscape and the economic landscape in the United States where you’re going to go out and be successful business people, taking the experience and expertise that you accrued during your time in uniform to bear dividends in the civilian world,” he told the MBV students.
Strategic, transformative leadership will be critical to the Coming North American Decades, he argued. This means getting big ideas right, communicating them throughout an organization, overseeing their implementation and course correcting when necessary.
“USC has very powerful, big ideas in a host of different arenas, including the health sciences area and the Master of Business for Veterans. It’s how you get these ideas right and how you keep them right,” Petraeus said, noting that the MBV program has undergone some changes in its second year as a result of feedback from students in the inaugural cohort. “What you’ve got to do, even when it’s going well, and perhaps then more than any other time, you have to look ahead and say: Are these big ideas going to continue to propel us, or do we need to refine them in certain ways or perhaps scrap them?”
Learn more about General Petraeus’ address to Marshall’s MBV students. Learn more about the MBV program at USC Marshall.