Making the quantum leap: how an ex-helicopter pilot landed a top role at KPMG
Written on the 10 April 2018 by Paris Faint
Matt Colquhoun (pictured) is all about military precision when it comes to doing business.
Before he became an associate director at KPMG, Colquhoun spent the better part of 20 years serving in the Australian Army as an airworthiness engineer and helicopter pilot.
While his two career paths seem dramatically different on the surface, Colquhoun says his main role at KPMG in engineering and asset management marries the best of both worlds.
"Consulting in a 'big four' firm is very dynamic, there's lots of projects that can last a week, three months or longer. It's a challenged keeping up with so many different things at once," he says.
"Being used to that change was something I learned in the military."
This kind of dynamic change is not only a part of Colquhoun's day job, but it's been a defining factor in his life.
A large part of Colquhoun's confidence to transition from his two decade-long career with the Army came when he undertook a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with The University of Queensland Business School.
Matt Colquhoun, former Army helicopter pilot
He landed on the idea of business consulting after talking with military colleagues who had made similar career changes. Colquhoun enrolled in the MBA program while in his final years at the Army.
Upon shedding the camo for a suit and tie, his first industry role was as a senior consultant at Deloitte where he advised back to the defence force.
"The way I saw it, I was on one side of a river and I had a goal to get to the other side - I didn't really know what it was going to look like," says Colquhoun.
"Rather than take a huge leap and end up in the river, I took some smaller jumps on the rocks in between."
After two years spent working at Deloitte, Colquhoun joined Relken Engineering as an associate director before the company was acquired by KPMG where he now works.
He largely credits his fast career progression in a new industry to the confidence and skills he gained through his MBA.
"People have different expectations of an MBA... transitioning a role, going to the next level in their organisation or going from middle management to an executive position," he says.
"For me it was significant because I was going through a complete role change and industry change altogether, and it just helped me have more information about what I was going into.
"I think the MBA is also an ideal primer for consulting because not only does it give you a lot of content surrounding the different areas of business, the group assignments also really help you understand team dynamics."
Colquhoun encourages anyone who is considering making a similar quantum leap in their professional lives to consider an MBA.
Interested in learning about the UQ MBA program? Register for the upcoming MBA info breakfast or live webinar on Thursday, 3 May.
This article was written in partnership with The University of Queensland Business School.Never miss a news update, subscribe here. Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.
Business News Australia
Author: Paris Faint