Have You Met Rutgers-Newark?

Soldier, student, pilot, leader: MBA candidate hopes to bolster his military leadership training

By Susan Todd, Rutgers Business School

Rakesh Dubey stands out at Rutgers Business School for a lot of reasons, starting with his Army fatigues.

Dubey’s career switch into the military opened the door for him to attend RBS, where he is pursuing a MBA in supply chain management and marketing. He is also a senior cadet in the Rutgers University Army ROTC, which explains the fatigues.   

Born in India, Dubey came to the U.S. to work as a software engineer with Infosys Technologies. A few years into his career, he joined the Army so he could be a pilot. People who know the 31-year-old say he takes the discipline expected from a soldier to a different level. He is on course to graduate in May and if everything goes right, he will be the first Army ROTC MBA graduate in more than a decade.

“He puts an incredible amount of effort into being an example of someone for other cadets to emulate,” said Lt. Colonel Sam Welch, who is the ROTC commanding officer at Rutgers. “He’s a little bit older, a little bit more mature. He’s an incredible student and absolutely dedicated to being a U.S. Army officer.”

Dubey also represents the diversity found within the MBA program at Rutgers Business School. In addition to business professionals, the program has attracted doctors, dentists, nurses and members of the National Guard. In his case, Dubey juggles a heavy course load, daily morning training drills and his responsibilities to the ROTC, where he is a senior cadet in charge of training and operations.          

“It’s all about prioritizing,” Dubey said. “Sometimes, I give more priority to ROTC and, sometimes, I give more to my studies.”

Dubey, who maintains a 3.7 grade point average, ranked in the top 14 percent of 5,500 cadets across the country based on the results of a mandatory ROTC leadership development assessment in 2012, according to Welch. The ranking means he will leave the ROTC as a distinguished military graduate.

“He will be an incredible asset to the soldiers under his care,” Welch said.   

While Dubey was working in Chicago, he started flying. It wasn’t long before he wanted to turn the hobby into something more. He quit his software engineering job and enrolled in flight school. “I really liked flying,” he said. “I wanted to become a professional pilot.”

While commercial flying offered one possible career route for Dubey, the military represented another. At the suggestion of a friend, he learned more about the military option and decided to go into the Army. In 2009, along with a lot of other traits and skills, the military was seeking recruits with language skills, which made Dubey an ideal prospect. In addition to English, he is fluent in Hindi and Bengali.

The Army sent him to Fort Jackson in South Carolina for basic training and then to Fort Eustis in Virginia, where he trained to be an Apache helicopter mechanic. Afterward, he was stationed at Storck Barracks near Illesheim, Germany, which is about 240 miles southwest of Berlin.

Dubey, reserved and soft-spoken, quickly found his next challenge: the Army’s highly competitive Green to Gold program, which gives enlisted soldiers an opportunity to attend school and then commission back as officers. To qualify, Dubey needed to be accepted to Rutgers Business School’s MBA program as well as the university’s Army ROTC. The Green to Gold program offered him a chance to spend two years earning his master’s while he retained his active duty status.

“I think the MBA will add a lot of value to me as an individual,” he said. “It’s not going to help me become a pilot per se, but it will give me the skills to be a better military leader.”

After he graduates, Dubey said he will commission back as an Army second lieutenant. He has already been told he will go to Fort Rucker in Alabama for helicopter flight school. “Just as long as I get to fly,” he said, “that’s my passion.”

Dubey, who has an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering, said he has never doubted his decision to switch careers. “I’m glad I chose this route. The military teaches you a lot of things not only about being a leader, but also about being a citizen,” he said. “I think I’ve become a better person.”