For student vets, a Richmond MBA honed leadership skills

November 6, 2023


One of the Richmond MBA’s greatest strengths is the diverse background of its students — including some current veterans — who bring their varied life experiences and insights to the classroom.

Trent Robinson enlisted in the Marine Corps when he was 17, following in his father’s footsteps. “Most of my great grandfathers, grandfathers, and great uncles served,” he said.  

He became a sergeant during his five years as a Marine, serving with HMX-1, the presidential helicopter squadron, under the Obama and Trump administrations.

Trent Robinson served with the administrations of Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump as part of HMX-1, the presidential helicopter squadron.

“Wherever the president goes, the HMX security detail has already been there and coordinated with local, state, and federal agencies to secure the site,” Robinson said. He later became a non-commissioned officer in charge of these advanced security details. The role took him across the U.S. and overseas.

Robinson received an undergraduate degree from the American Military University and says his military experience fostered a desire and the financial means to explore a graduate degree. “Most of the people I grew up with did not go on to achieve college degrees,” he said. “Time management, operating under immense pressure, and aligning objectives to a larger goal are a few things that the military helped me refine. I am excited to see what other opportunities a Richmond MBA provides.”

Josiah Routhier and his wife, Rachel

Robinson’s fellow MBA student, Josiah Routhier, agrees. A 2013 graduate of the Jepson School, Routhier is an active-duty member of the U.S. Army. “The military has prepared me with disciplined hard work, a learning mindset, a resilient outlook, and a drive to do my best in everything I do,” he said.

After participating in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) as an undergrad at Richmond, Routhier was commissioned as an officer upon graduation. He also followed examples set forth by his family, as his parents were both in the U.S. Air Force. “I did feel a sense of duty to my country, but more than that, I wanted to show selfless service and servant leadership through my service,” he said.  

Routhier began as a field artillery officer before transitioning to military intelligence. He was first deployed in 2019 as the primary intelligence officer for a brigade of High Mobility Artillery Rocket System platforms. He then became a commander for an airborne company responsible for corps-level signal communications, intelligence, and sustainment activities. He deployed a second time in 2022 to support NATO allies when Russia invaded Ukraine. He returned in time to begin the MBA program last fall.

Routhier will serve for six more years after completing his degree next year. “I hope to bring what I’ve learned back to the Army — best practices and lessons from the business world that I can apply to my future positions to improve the units and organizations of which I will be a member,” he said. “Once I retire from the military, I plan to return to Richmond and invest back into the community.”

Robinson, now with Markel, manages a globally dispersed team of tech professionals. “The greatest skill I obtained during my military service that aided my business career is leadership,” he said. “Individuals who can quickly absorb information, make tough calls decisively, and motivate others to rally around a shared goal are in short supply. I'm thankful my leadership skills were sharpened by years of service in the Marine Corps.”