The Percy Hobart Fellowship is a bespoke, 12-week course to give immersive, hands-on experience in innovation to personnel in the Royal Navy. As we enter the sixth week of running the programme, here’s an update on what the fellowship is and how it’s been going so far.

The Inaugural Percy Hobart Fellows have reached the halfway point in their 12 week course.  During weeks 5 and 6 they heard from James Murphy, CEO of Techvets, on his journey from the Military to developing a network of ex-forces professionals who share insights, attend events, and take their skills out to become Cyber Professionals. The Fellows were very enthusiastic about the work Techvets are doing and loved hearing about the synergy of Military skills and entrepreneurship.

The round of stellar speakers continued into Week 6 when Fellows studied the Harvard Business School case of James “Hondo” Geurts, the Acquisition Executive for U.S. Special Operations Command, and how experience trying to help the U.S. Special Forces be more “agile” enable him to change a much larger—and much more rigid—organisation like the U.S. Navy. The session was led by Mitch Weiss, a Professor of Management Practice in the Entrepreneurial Management unit and the Richard L. Menschel Faculty Fellow at the Harvard Business School. He created and teaches the school’s course on Public Entrepreneurship—on public leaders and private entrepreneurs who invent a difference in the world.  We are delighted that James “Hondo” Guerts himself will be lecturing the Fellows later in the course.

Rounding off week 6, we were joined by Ben Maruthappu, CEO and Co-founder of Cera, a multi-award winning technology company transforming social care. He told Fellows how his role had changed and evolved as Cera has scaled, and shared his thoughts about creating Culture. Throughout the Covid Crisis, Cera have undertaken 10,000 daily home visits to vulnerable customers, and seen a truly remarkable zero death rate due to the pandemic.

We celebrated the Fellows’ success and completion of the first half of the course with virtual drinks hosted by Daniel Korski and Gen Sir Chris Deverell, Co-founders of the PHF, where we we joined by Rear Admiral Phil Hally, the RN’s Director of Personnel and Training, and other Senior Personnel in the Royal Navy, RFA and Royal Marines.

We asked Fellows for their reflections on the course thus far:

“The first half of the PHF has been an exciting journey for me, challenging me to think differently and opening my eyes to start-up culture and the benefits that the methodologies they use could bring to a modern military. From design thinking through to a business case study on SOFWERX we have covered a great deal of ground since we started and i can’t wait to see where the next 6 weeks takes me.”

Steven Reilly, Royal Navy

“The past 6 weeks working as a Percy Hobart Fellow have been a great experience and I am really looking forward to learning and developing further over the next 6 weeks. I have really enjoyed the challenge of working in the Startup environment. I see the most valuable aspect as taking the most productive practices from the Startup back into my work within the Royal Navy, especially effective work in lean environments. The Startup I am working for also feels they are gaining from having a PHF working with them, especially the diversity of thought I can bring. I’m really looking forward to the chance to continue to develop my innovation idea and bring it back into the Royal Navy.”

Louise McMenemy, Royal Navy

“At the start of the year I certainly didn’t expect to be part of anything like this. I’m so pleased and grateful for the opportunity. The variety of topics we have been able to cover has been incredible and so interesting. The highlight for me has been the unbelievably high standard of guest lecturers and tutors. Alongside the mentor support it has really allowed us to take the information we have been given and relate it to what we will be working on in the future.”

Michael Delacamp, Royal Navy

“On applying to the PHF I had a slight apprehension that this could be a deeply technical course.  

Six weeks in this couldn’t be further from the truth. I am glad I took the risk. The balance of start-up placement, outstanding mentors, lecturers and facilitating staff, overlaid with freedom to share insights and experiences with other fellows has been a truly superb learning experience. It has increased my confidence to challenge conventional thinking, try new approaches without fear of failure, and importantly learn as you go. Of course exposure to the exciting technology in the world has been interesting but the real learning benefit has come from the people. I seem to be constantly adjusting my thoughts and approaches to working life with every new fascinating person we’re exposed to from the ‘world of innovation”

Tom Coates, Royal Navy

As the programme continues we will update on the progress and journeys of the fellows.