Thunderbird School of Global Management

Patrick McDermottA funny thing happened…

As a relatively recent addition to the Thunderbird family, my sense of expectation around the 70th Anniversary celebrations was mixed with the nervous tension of wanting to work with our team to deliver the best possible celebration for the returning T-birds.  In the end the weekend was every bit a homecoming for me, as it was for the nearly 1000 people who joined us on campus.  For me, it was a powerful reminder of why I wanted to come to Thunderbird in the first place – the people.  What I noticed in the midst of the celebrations, the conversations, the deals, the reunions, was that a funny thing happened to the campus that weekend.  The mystique came back.  That somewhat elusive Thunderbird description that I have heard so much about and seen briefly from time to time on Chapter visits and alumni gatherings and when I sit and talk with our students.  It was here in force that weekend, because the T-birds came home that weekend and the mystique, the power and generosity and connection of this unique group of people, it goes where they go, but it is nowhere more palpable than when they come back to Glendale.

We had an extraordinary weekend, filled with learnings and new connections, but when asked to write something to capture what I thought of the 70th, what immediately came to my mind was the people.  I had the great joy of being one of the folks whose job it was to welcome people back – to tell every person I met that weekend, first and foremost, how glad we are as a School, that they joined us.  What a privilege that was and what a response I got!  Each and every person had a story, a journey.  How they came to this place to begin with.  What it has meant to them.  How it changed them.  What this group of people did to help them become who they are, professionally, and personally.  It was, for me, amazing and quite humbling.

So, for my part, to those who returned for the 70th, thank you.  Thank you for making the effort, for believing in the school again, and for coming home to celebrate that we are not just still here, we always were, and the future is bright.  To those who did not return, I ask just one thing, make an effort to find someone who was, watch the video, thumb through the photos, connect with a student, but get a sense of the energy that was all around this place during those three days.  Thunderbird is indeed a very special place, but what I learned over the course of that weekend, is that Thunderbird is an idea – and those who embrace it and carry it with them – hold a legacy that has and will continue to change our world.  Thank you to all the T-birds who showed me that during the 70th.

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