Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Antelme is a former soldier who has brought the hard-won lessons of conflict to a successful career running businesses in some of the world’s most challenging emerging markets. He is now managing partner in a consultancy that helps global companies get their strategies implemented.
As a speaker he draws on a whole range of experiences from his commercial life and a military career spanning 18 years, during which he conducted multiple tours of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland and the Balkans.
In 2009 when Lt Col Rupert Thorneloe, the most senior officer to die in combat since the Falklands War was tragically killed in action in Afghanistan, Charlie was sitting in a comfortable desk job in London. He was given on the spot promotion and flew to the war-zone to take over the role commanding the Welsh Guards Battle Group, a multi-national team of 1300 people that at that point had suffered the loss of a soldier at every rank in fierce fighting. The experience of starting a ‘new job’ under considerable pressure taught him invaluable lessons about ‘taking over’, mission focus and the human dynamics of leadership. Most importantly he found his greatest inspiration from the generosity and unbreakable spirit of the people around him. The story of the Welsh Guards in Afghanistan is told in Toby Harnden’s award-winning book ‘Dead Men Risen’.
For much of his military career, he was a UK Special Forces officer working to the highest strategic levels in multi-agency and multi-national operations both in combat and advisory roles. These experiences offered an uncommon level of exposure to political and diplomatic issues, leadership challenges and the delivery of operations where resources, time and security were limited. In 2006 he was awarded the DSO for his combat leadership in Iraq.
Unusually, Charlie joined the Army from the movie business where he ran film locations from Pinewood Studios. The discipline of getting the cameras rolling on time was a helpful insight into the ‘time and money’ equation.
A keen historian Charlie draws upon the lessons of the past and like most soldiers looks for the humour in the toughest situations.