Brendon Oakley


After 25 years in the Royal New Zealand Navy, Cmdr. Brendon Oakley has seen and done just about everything, from holding down management and support positions at Defence Force headquarters in Wellington to serving as a senior officer in the United Nations’ peacekeeping forces in the Middle East.

Now he can add MBA to his list of accomplishments, thanks to a partnership between Salve Regina and the U.S. Naval War College, located just across town from the University’s Newport campus.

“New Zealand is a small nation, so there’s benefit in having people with a diverse set of skills to serve in senior leadership positions,” Oakley said. “I’m constantly seeking new opportunities for personal and professional development to help me do my job better. I’ve often thought an MBA would be extremely useful, but never imagined I could study towards a qualification of this type while at the U.S. Naval War College. The idea seemed perfect.”

Oakley was one of 55 officers from 52 different nations studying in the Class of 2019 at the war college. One of the first things he learned, thanks to a presentation by Dr. Arlene Nicholas, associate professor and graduate program director at Salve Regina, was that he could also get an MBA through a program specifically designed for officers to complement their military studies. The presentation was followed by a campus visit and orientation program.

“Of course, I was astounded by the beauty of the campus, but even more than that, I was struck by all the outstanding people in Salve Regina’s program,” Oakley said. “I proposed to naval leadership in New Zealand that I undertake study towards an MBA and was later advised that the program at Salve Regina was supported. I had the green light.

“Like the campus itself, the Salve MBA program is small and personable,” he added. “I’ve been able to develop great relationships with my instructors and fellow students, and the MBA program is at a very high academic standard and quality.”

Oakley completed his MBA while also earning a diploma in national security and strategic studies from the war college. He graduated in May and headed back to Defence Force headquarters in Wellington in August.

But before leaving Newport, he had one final task. “I made sure to recommend the Salve Regina MBA to the New Zealand officer who will be attending the war college in 2020,” Oakley said. “I thought they should be aware of the program before they arrive in Newport. It’s too good an opportunity not to consider.”