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Veteran Finds Post-military Success As An Entrepreneur And Soon-to-be-published Author After Writing Dissertation In Iraq

Earning a doctoral degree and maintaining a full time job can be a daunting task for anyone. When the fulltime job is active duty in the war in Iraq, it becomes perhaps the peak of determination. Colonel (COL) Peter VanAmburgh (at the time a Major) completed the final statistical analysis for his dissertation in a destroyed building at the Baghdad airport in Iraq. He wrote his dissertation while moving frequently between Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.

COL VanAmburgh was nearing the end of his program to earn a Doctor of Education (Ed.D) in Organizational Leadership at Argosy University Sarasota when his Georgia Army National Guard unit deployed to the war in Iraq in February 2003. Unwilling to set his studies aside, he loaded everything on a laptop and took it with him.

He describes it as a chaotic time, when he and his team were responsible for a wide variety of intelligence operations. “Even after a hard day’s work, I was known to dust off (-literally!-) my dissertation project and make some progress on it during downtime,” he says. He jokes that fellow soldiers often looked at him with “shock and awe” as he wrote his dissertation on a laptop while traveling regularly in military vehicles to different locations.

Argosy University Sarasota offers the Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership (OL) program in a blended format that allows students to complete coursework online, in the classroom, or both. For COL VanAmburgh, this flexibility became a critical factor in completing his degree.

Dr. VanAmburgh says he chose to study Organizational Leadership “to help meet the challenges of Army transformation; for example, building the objective force for Counterintelligence/Human Intelligence (CI/HUMINT) of the future, developing new approaches for recruiting and human resource management, commanding brigade-level organizations, teaching ROTC students, and organizing and directing combat and humanitarian operations.” He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his contributions to CI/HUMINT and security missions throughout the combat zones of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Says Dr. Celia Edmondson, department head of the Organizational Leadership program in the College of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences at Argosy University Sarasota, “We were more than happy to accommodate Peter’s desire to complete his degree under what had to be challenging, if not often frightening circumstances. He has shown, as a student and as a leader, that life is to be lived with dedication, integrity and courage.”

Now a retired colonel, Dr. VanAmburgh lives in Roswell, Georgia, with his wife and two daughters. Today, he works as president and CEO of 1Mission Leadership, a company he founded to develop influential global leaders. Drawing on his experience in directing combat and humanitarian missions in more than 15 countries, he offers expertise in leading multi-national, multi-agency and multi-cultural endeavors. The wide scope of services offered by his company includes leadership, organizational behavior, culture, strategic planning, change management, crisis management, interactive multimedia instruction, and government proposal development.

“Our expertise in leadership, planning, and multinational operations is coupled with a responsive network of Subject Matter Experts who are available to respond to any requirements an organization may face,” says Dr. VanAmburgh, adding, “I enjoy the autonomy, It’s easier to find good employees than it is to find a good boss.“

He is writing a book about his leadership experience. Slated for publication in the summer of 2013, One Mission to Africa, Leadership Lessons for a Lifetime, tells the story of Dr. VanAmburgh’s experience in leading Task Force Kitgum in Uganda in 2009. The United States and East African Countries of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda worked in collaboration “to prepare the region for the challenges of a pandemic or equally devastating disaster,” says Dr. VanAmburgh. ”The book reveals lessons gleaned from a dynamic multinational environment, the results, and the influence the mission had on its participants and the local people.”

“It was my privilege to serve in the military. I am still busy with my work; at least now I’m not under the duress of missile strikes or dissertation deadlines,” says Dr. VanAmburgh
Colonel (Retired) Peter VanAmburgh
Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership (2003)

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