Philip Busick (MBA’23) on the Decision To Pursue a Business Education After 10 Years in the Army
Our veterans represent a significant part of the Georgetown McDonough community and hail from every branch and role within the United States military. They have honed valuable skills in leadership and conflict resolution through their unique experiences that create a great path forward to a successful career in business.
Philip Busick (MBA’23) came to Georgetown McDonough after nearly a decade of active-duty army service, where mentorship and conflict resolution were integral components of everyday life.
Today, as an MBA student, Busick is in a new environment that can sometimes be challenging to navigate as he transitions from civilian life to the business world. However, as he continues on this journey, he’s grateful for what he learned in the military and for the Georgetown community that’s made him feel right at home.
Learn more about Busick’s experience on the Hilltop and how his time of service continues to shape who he is today both in and out of the classroom.
Why did you choose to pursue your MBA degree at Georgetown McDonough?
My choice to leave the active duty army was not an easy one. I spent my entire professional career post-undergrad in the military and had a very successful career in an elite unit in United States Army Special Operations, as well as being selected for a merit-based promotion to the rank of major, and being admitted to attend the Marine Corps Command and General Staff College to continue my professional education. By all accounts, my career was on the fast track to success, but after returning from what I thought was going to be my last combat deployment overseas (I was asked to deploy one more time before leaving the service), I decided that I had achieved everything I had set out to do in the army and so much more. Having felt like I climbed to the top of a mountain, I looked around and didn’t feel like there were any peaks higher to climb than the one I had already summited.
It was at this time I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied with my personal development unless I sought out new challenges, and for someone who spent a decade in the military, the private sector appeared to be the final frontier for me. Not knowing very much about what it would be like to work in the business industry, I had a good enough understanding to know there were things I didn’t know and that furthering my education could be an excellent way to bridge this divide.
While many business schools caught my eye at one time or another, I always had a special interest in Georgetown. From the placement of the school at the intersection of business in government in the nation’s capital to the high caliber of McDonough graduates and their placement in prominent firms across the business landscape, I knew that attending Georgetown was the logical choice. From my experiences during the application process, I felt that McDonough was an ideal fit for me and that I could equally be a good fit for the MBA program and add value to it. I’m happy to say that everything I thought about Georgetown was true and then some. I am proud to have the opportunity to learn alongside some of the brightest people I have ever met who will most assuredly be the future leaders of their respective industries.
How did your experience as a veteran prepare you for your time at Georgetown and your postgraduate career?
My time in the military was an absolutely formative experience for me. After graduating from my undergraduate program, I don’t think I could have been in a profession that exposed me to the challenges of leadership and life in general as much as being an officer in the armed forces. My very first job in the army was as a platoon leader in charge of 50 individuals with 12 million dollars worth of equipment.
On the other hand, navigating interpersonal skills is something the military also exposes officers to at an early age. I can recall multiple instances of having to give soldiers advice on marriages, children, finances, education, and career goals. This all occurred in my early 20s as someone who was not married, didn’t have children, had just graduated from college, and barely had any savings to speak of.
All of these experiences, as well as the more serious ones, such as learning how to remain calm when receiving bad news from a colleague or taking fire from enemy machine guns and mortars, gives you a sense of what really matters and how best to control your emotions. I believe this outlook has been extremely valuable as a student at Georgetown and provides perspective on what truly matters. During my postgraduate educational experience, I believe these same skills apply as veterans have years of experience working in and leading teams of all sizes. Ultimately, leadership is something that is developed over time and being in the army I was lucky enough to be in the world’s premier leadership incubator for over a decade.
What would you like people to know about the life of a student veteran?
The transition from military to student life can be a little more precarious than one might initially expect. I often felt a sense of “imposter syndrome” being surrounded by peers who knew all the ins and outs of the business world. The military attitude of never quitting no matter how hard the challenge was something that absolutely helped me get through this early stage of the transition process. Once I became more comfortable with student life, I realized that as veterans we will always have that distinct identity that we will carry with us, but we also have the amazing opportunity to recreate ourselves. Over the last year, I have seen many of my fellow veterans really come into their own as they have successfully navigated academics and internships.
What is one of the most important lessons you have learned while at Georgetown?
I have truly learned a lot during my time at Georgetown, but I think the most valuable lesson this school has taught me hasn’t been about statistics or finance; instead, it’s been a lesson in humility. As a person who had generally always excelled in the military, it was great to be in a position where I had to push myself to keep pace with my amazing classmates.
Additionally, meeting people from all walks of life and all around the globe has been inspiring, to say the least. While I have a plethora of experiences that I often share with my peers, it is great to hear about their experiences and how they have shaped their development and led them to pursue a degree at McDonough. On countless occasions, I have been inspired by the stories my fellow students have shared, everything from volunteering in remote villages in South America to amazing success stories of entrepreneurs starting their own businesses with nothing more than a great idea. I am constantly inspired by the achievements of the Georgetown community and I use this inspiration as motivation to continue pushing myself to find new ways to make an impact.
What advice would you give to veterans who are thinking about pursuing a college/graduate-level education?
I’ve always been a huge believer that education is the secret to success, and when you mix it with hard work, you create a recipe for excellence. Oftentimes, veterans may feel like they are out of place and don’t belong in certain academic institutions, but I believe this is doing themselves and those institutions a huge disservice. The experiences and perspectives that veterans bring to the classroom are incredibly inciteful and I believe their classmates are genuinely appreciative of them. While being in the military may not give service members much experience when it comes to topics like accounting or economics, it absolutely gives veterans the tools to be expert problem solvers when they enter new situations in their degree programs or work environments. My advice to veterans that are considering the academic route is that you need to have faith in your abilities, you are so much better prepared to be a student than you probably realize, and you have all the skills necessary to be just as successful in academics as you were in the service.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Georgetown community?
Being a student at Georgetown has been an amazing experience and is something I wake up being thankful for each and every day. The accomplishments of this community are truly incredible, and I think it’s not until you have graduated that you realize just what an impact this institution will have on you. The Hoya network is strong and continues to grow stronger each year. I hope that we all can continue to lean on one another for support and be an inspiration to push ourselves to achieve even greater results in the future.