Veteran soldier excited for different kind of boot camp

It was back to boot camp this week for military veteran Alan King.

But it wasn’t what the Oromocto resident is used to.

Uniforms, weapons and rucksacks were traded in for figures, calculators and money experts.

King, a master corporal at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, is one of 19 transitioning military members from across Canada spending the week at Memorial University in St. John’s, N.L.

They’re taking part in program called Based in Business. The gathering is a week-long, all-expense-paid entrepreneurial boot camp founded by Enactus Memorial, a student-run volunteer organization operating out of Memorial University, and presented in partnership with the Canadian Youth Business Foundation.

“I am very excited and extremely motivated after being here,” King, a member of The Second Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment (2RCR), said in a telephone interview.

“This course has a lot of important players. Getting some of the experience and knowledge from them gives me the confidence to move forward.”

Participants are using the time to develop business ideas through classroom presentations, seminars, discussions and one-on-one time with experienced professionals, students and faculty from Memorial University’s Faculty of Business Administration.

The St. John’s boot camp is the first of three such gatherings across Canada, with others scheduled for August in Regina and Laval.

King, a 13-year veteran with two tours to Afghanistan under his belt, is in the process of being medically released from the Forces because of a serious knee injury.

“I am just waiting for my paperwork to come back from Ottawa and then I’ll be transitioning as an entrepreneur.”

Originally from Fredericton, King is looking to set up a fast-food franchise in St. John’s, N.L.
The 35-year-old said he got involved in the boot camp as a result of online research and through the Service Income Security Insurance Plan.

King said the Based in Business experience has exceeded his expectations.

He said he’s particularly impressed with the experts brought in to teach.

“When we got here, there was a ton of professors – some of them the best in their fields, as far as marketing, human resources, advertising. That’s all knowledge you are going to take and, obviously, apply to business?…?These are people who have all been or are in the process of being entrepreneurs themselves.”

King said he wasn’t looking to gain expertise in any one particular area as he entered the week-long program but was instead seeking a little bit of everything.

The soldier said obtaining real-time instruction from people involved in the field is priceless and makes the transition from the military a lot easier.

Because of his injury, King said, he’s not getting to leave the military on his own terms.

“Everyone wants to finish what they started,” King said. “(But) when you have the opportunity to get involved in something like this, I feel like things are going to happen because I am making them happen. I don’t think you can get any better opportunities when you create the job for yourself and are able to influence how that is going to outcome. Other than being told what to do all the time, now I have the opportunity to make some of those decisions and create my path ahead.”

Lt.-Cmdr. Kathryn Hodgson, a retired personnel selection officer with the Royal Canadian Navy and graduate of last year’s Based in Business program, said the week represents an incredible opportunity to be taught, supported, mentored and inspired by the best.

“The entire team helped us realize our passion, potential, skills and energy, and set me on a course toward success in further developing and creating my business,” Hodgson said in a news release.

The boot camp, meanwhile, is part of The Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur, a national program of Prince’s Charities Canada – the Canadian charitable office for HRH The Prince of Wales – for transitioning Canadian Forces members interested in making the move from a military career to entrepreneurship.

“The Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur is about giving options to those who’ve served their country,” Amanda Sherrington, president and CEO of Prince’s Charities Canada, said in a news release.

“This program is a continuation of the Prince of Wales’ ongoing commitment to the Canadian Forces.”
King said he advises anyone who is either transitioning or has transitioned out of the Forces to have a look and contact those who have completed the course, as well as those who are involved.

“It’s an absolutely amazing opportunity, and they will get a lot out of it.”

The Daily Gleaner | Fredericton, New Brunswick