Meet the Chartered Manager: The cross-cultural leader

09 September 2016 -


Find out how Edward Osborne went from being a major in the army to managing distribution networks for some of the UK’s biggest retailers, and how Chartered Manager status helped him with the transition

Matt Scott

Many of us will, at some point, experience a career transition. Few will be as dramatic as Edward Osborne’s, who moved from being a major in the army into civilian life managing distribution operations for some of the UK’s biggest retailers.

Osborne’s desire to join the army started at the age of three, when he first tried on a Second World War uniform. The young Osborne was hooked, and destined to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps.

Osborne joined the British Army and trained to be an officer at what he describes as one of the best training centres for any manager or leader – Royal Military Academy Sandhurst – passing out from the academy as an army officer at the age of 21.

“Some equate that year at Sandhurst as similar to a university degree,” he says. “It is all structured around the knowledge you need to succeed in the role to come, but it also gives you the privilege to lead and manage soldiers from all walks of life and in all different environments.”

The military career that followed saw Osborne take on a number of roles, including responsibility for the Ministry of Defence’s global surface freight movement, and spells in Nepal and Afghanistan.

The highlight of his military career was being made squadron commander of the Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment.

It was the sheer variety of roles and experiences in the army that shaped him as a leader and manager.

“Life in the military involves working with people in different parts of the country, and also across different professions within the Ministry of Defence and across the world,” he says. “Being in the army does make you more adaptable; you never have the creature comforts that a routine manager knows will always be there.

“Quite often, it is just you, your head, your knowledge and your ability to interact.”

Osborne retired from the army as a major; the transition from military to civilian life was far from straightforward.

“You do go through some personal and professional changes as you transition into civilian life,” he says. “There is a very clear distinction. In the military you eat, sleep and drink within that culture.

Everything is contained in that culture. When you leave the military, you no longer live in that contained environment, are no longer surrounded by your peers; that’s a completely different environment to work in.

“CMI has always been a background pillar to me, helping me keep a handle on civilian life.”

After a spell at Tesco as head of dropship operations, Osborne now works for the John Lewis Partnership as head of customer delivery model and direct-to-customer operations, responsible for logistics.

He has taken the intensity of his time in the army and developed a passionate and direct management style, but says that he is still learning as a manager – as he believes everyone should – and has progressed to being a Fellow of CMI as part of his ongoing career development.

“I’ve become more considered and more deliberate [since becoming a Chartered Manager], and I try to always lead by example,” he says. “My management style is direct and honest and I abide by the overarching principles, no matter what. I expect the people I work with always to be fair and reasonable.”

Find out more about Osborne’s story in his own words

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