Lunch with an Entrepreneur – Does the military make you a better leader?

Jul 8, 2020 | 4 min read
Hello world! I'm Niesh's Head of Student Engagement and I run our ON Event Series. My expertise ranges from food all the way to sharing knowledge on how to make the most of your student experience.

Vincent Vuillard (Co-Founder of FutureWork Studio) joined Niesh to breakdown key skills that helped shape his entrepreneurial journey. Lunch with an Entrepreneur is a FREE workshop for students that will up-skill you in TOP innovation strategies around the world & help you develop your industry & peer to peer network. Join us at the next workshop here!

Below we’ll give you his backstory and reveal two key lessons he’s learnt along the way.


Vincent Vuillard at Lunch with an Entrepreneur
Vincent Vuillard at Lunch with an Entrepreneur

Vincent is a future thinker who believes the future of work is going to change rapidly with more freelancing and agile firms taking the lead. His company FutureWork Studio has developed three platforms that helps their clients pivot fast, make better decisions and find talented individuals.

Like most students, Vincent began studying engineering because “it was the thing to do”. He didn’t enjoy it and got bad marks, “it didn’t excite me”.

Not seeing himself as an office man, he graduated and spent the next 10 YEARS in the French Navy. From doing tours in Afghanistan, Libya and Somalia, he has experienced it all.

Later on, he discovered the world of business and worked at Fonterra (Director of Strategic Capabilities & Organisational Health) & McKinsey & Company (Vice President of Recovery & Transformation Services). Despite his experience working with large corporates before venturing into the entrepreneurial space. His most valuable experience lies in 10 years with the French Navy.

Lessons You Learn In The Navy

Lesson Number 1: Embrace the uncomfortable to expand your limitations

From juggling tight assignment deadlines, bad grades or getting rejected for a job. How many times have YOU wanted to give up?

Training in the French Navy includes getting dropped in a forest for 9 days. You sleep for two hours a night, run around wet and cold… after two days you want to give up.

Reality check? You can’t.

In the army, you are stretched beyond your limitations to accomplish MORE and achieve MORE.

Why? In the army you cannot fake it. If you do, you might not go home OR you’ll get others killed. From trainings in France, the Navy helped Vincent stretch beyond his limitations and embrace the positives of being uncomfortable. There is always growth and learnings you’ll get in a bad & uncomfortable situation. He became a better leader and entrepreneur because of it.

Successful business leaders and entrepreneurs ALWAYS conquer challenges by thinking “things are never too hard”. So next time you are struggling, try change your perspective and view it as a growth experience. Be persistent and resilient.

Lesson in practice: Practice placing yourself in an uncomfortable position and stay there. Never be complacent or comfortable.
Other Accomplished Ex-Military Entrepreneurs
  • Fred Smith (FedEx Founder)
  • Sam Walton (Walmart Founder)

Lesson Number 2: Teamwork makes the dreamwork

Teamwork makes the dreamwork sounds like a cliche you’ll hear your dad say.

Being dropped into a forest with little to no supplies makes you quickly realise how good it is to have a reliable team. Your team creates the building blocks to support skyscraper dreams. You become more appreciative for the ability to rely on others. You’re less likely to give up and this shapes GREAT businesses.

An entrepreneurs team will make or break a start up, you must have people who are:

  • Reliable – dependable in tough situations
  • Diverse – diversity within a team leads to better solutions
  • Not afraid to go against the grain – willing to challenge your ideas
Lesson in practice: Practice empathy with team mates and begin surrounding yourself with people who fit the three criteria.

Do you think the military creates better leaders? If you enjoyed reading this article, take a look at our next Lunch with an Entrepreneur workshop here. We will be continuing our summaries of the workshops through our blog.

The ON: Entrepreneurship series aims to create a network of businesses, individual leaders, and talented students to help young New Zealanders progress to their next destination. Proudly brought to you by Niesh & Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED).