The power of One Thunderbird
The vision of the ACT is to ENGAGE, BUILD, and LAUNCH programs and services to our worldwide Thunderbird network of over 40,000 alumni. We want to listen to you, the alumni network, and learn how ACT, together with Thunderbird, can serve this incredible network of alumni in meaningful ways. Please check back here often for updates on our progress and feel free to send your ideas and feedback to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if you haven’t already, please take a few minutes to complete the ACT alumni survey.
The second occasion for Sun Devils and T-Birds to come together was the watching of the ASU vs Notre Dame Football game in Decatur GA on November 8, 2014, where ASU dismantled Notre Dame 55-31. The conviviality of the occasion was a perfect opportunity to make new friends and share good times with Rennie Sloan T-Bird ’93 and Tony van der Hoek (ASU ’87-89 and T-Bird ’89) representing Thunderbird. There were approximately 40 alumni present at the celebration!
Atlanta’s ASU Alumni President Seth Deitchman introduced T-Bird Atlanta Chapter Leader Rennie Sloan and Alumni Council of Thunderbird’s Tony van der Hoek to incoming ASU Atlanta Alumni president-elect Kenneth Grambow, ASU ‘03 and some of the leadership team in Atlanta.
On November 10, 2014, the ASU Alumni Chapter held their elections for their new board at Moo-Monday (which is held the second Monday of every month at different locations in town). Irena Tseng ‘14 was nominated by Seth Deitchman and then elected by the Atlanta ASU Chapter as Director ASU Thunderbird Liaison. Seth commented, “We hope that this will be an example to the world of how we can come together and form a cohesive alumni network.” These sentiments were echoed by Tony: “the liaison position shows the alignment and offers us the opportunity to synergize the alumni base to form an even stronger alumni organization, leveraging the strengths of both, while allowing for our individuality. The goal would be to become the most well respected and regarded alumni organization in the world – for business, networking and fun!”
Kenneth Grambow ’03 WP Carey and President-Elect Atlanta ASU Alumni commented that he is looking forward to working closely with Tony and Laura Maskell T-Bird ’10, President of Atlanta’s T-Bird Chapter and Rennie Sloan T-Bird ’93 in the coming months. Already plans are underway for our first combined official event in February 2015 where we will orchestrate a business speaking event with a senior UPS manager to the broader alumni community. The group will be reaching out to ASU to determine if a Supply Chain professor or dignitary may be able to also attend.
The Atlanta T-Bird Alumni Chapter was delighted to host Atlanta’s ASU Alumni President Seth Deitchman to the November T-Bird Tuesday, where for the first time Sun Devils and T-Birds socialized and networked together. Laura Maskell ’10, President of Atlanta’s T-Bird Chapter, and Alumni Council of Thunderbird’s Tony van der Hoek (ASU ’87-89 and T-Bird ’89) introduced Seth to the group who were all enthused to welcome him.
The event was held on the top deck of one of the best Irish Pubs in Atlanta, Fado’s, which added to both a warm and friendly atmosphere, but also was in the heart of Buckhead. Tony shared the fact that there are 397 T-Birds in the Greater Atlanta area, and ASU has approximately 4,000.
T-Bird Tuesday at Fado’s Irish Pub in Buckhead Ga, November 4, 2014.
Seth addressed the group and spoke about the wonderful opportunity to collaborate and co-sponsor events. Sun Devils certainly have the scale of the larger university whereas T-Birds have the focused global business degree programs. There are many ASU alumni in Atlanta in senior positions with high profile companies as well as many entrepreneurs. This model fits perfectly with the T-bird alumni profile.
In addition, there are events where we are already directionally aligned, such as Janet Ackerman’s (T-Bird ’97) Zumba® Fitness event on November 23rd at the pre-game show of the Atlanta Falcons vs. Cleveland Browns. This will be the Atlanta Falcon’s Zumba Military Appreciation performance with contributions supporting military families. Seth shared information with the group about the Pat Tillman Foundation (www.pattillmanfoundation.org), and what it means to ASU Sun Devils around the world. Founded in 2004, the Pat Tillman Foundation invests in military veterans and their spouses through educational scholarships – building a diverse community of leaders committed to service to others. Pat Tillman, an ASU All- American football player, was in the midst of an all-star NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals when he put his athletic career on hold to serve his country in the wake of the attacks of 9/11. Pat died in the line of duty regretfully. Janet and Seth will be collaborating in the future to coordinate the Sun Devil Pat Tillman Run, which had 120 runners in Atlanta last year, with a joint event with the Atlanta Falcons.
Seth invited Atlanta T-Birds to the ASU vs. Notre Dame Football game on Saturday, November 8th and the next “Moo-Monday” which will be held on November 11th. The first Monday of each month ASU alumni gather at a local burger restaurant.
Tony spoke to the group about the opportunity for T-Bird alumni to continue to focus their efforts on life-long learning, executive development, professional speaker events and the like. This was the start of our efforts to collaborate and fuse our initiatives, demonstrating the advantages of this impending merger, which brings both the capabilities of a strong university – and the local scale that we have always enjoyed in our global networks.
Laura spoke of some upcoming events, such as the December Holiday Party, which may be another opportunity to invite and mingle with Sun Devils.
Over the coming months, Seth, Tony and Laura plan to continue to collaborate on local co-sponsored events, introduce other local chapter leaders of both schools and grow our understanding of our respective alumni organizations and their needs and desires. Tony closed his comments with the mantra that Joy Lubeck, ’86 Tbird alumna, ACT President, calls to us all: “If not now, when? and if not us, who?” The time for engagement and action is therefore upon us. The future looks very bright for all.
By Tony van der Hoek ’89, Alumni Council of Thunderbird - Atlanta, GA
Alumni Council of Thunderbird’s Tony van der Hoek, ASU W.P. Carey ’89 & Thunderbird ‘89 and Atlanta’s ASU Alumni President Seth Deitchman ASU W.P. Carey ‘99 met for a first introductory meeting on October 20, 2014. The meeting was scheduled for both to share experiences as chapter leaders and to discuss future opportunities with the upcoming merger.
Seth and Tony found many areas of commonality and mutual opportunities to share resources, organization and communication alignment. They discussed how T-Birds tended to focus more on the business development and networking opportunities for the alumni, and ASU on the schools spirit, networking and social activities (e.g. ASU football games, baseball outings etc.).
To this end, Atlanta ASU Alumni host “Moo-Mondays.” The first Monday of each month ASU Alumni gather at a local burger restaurant. T-Bird alumni have their global First Tuesday, which is a social networking gathering hosted on the first Tuesday of each month in many cities around the world.
Tony van der Hoek and Seth Deitchman’s inaugural meeting at Starbucks, which has recently announced a partnership with ASU that allows all of its employees to take ASU on-line courses for free.
The duo discussed collaborative opportunities, such as Atlanta ASU Alumni sponsoring a LinkedIn Development program for business professionals to learn how to leverage that platform to optimize their search. Tony invited some local T-Birds to attend the event held on Wednesday, October 22nd. In addition, Atlanta ASU Alumni host networking events and would like to open those up to T-Birds.
Speaking events, a long tradition at T-Bird, were also discussed. Seth mentioned that some of the renowned ASU alumni working at companies in Atlanta, such as Delta, Coca-Cola and UPS, could host events. Both alumni have members at these great companies and could explore ways to co-present to the alumni community at large.
Another area of interest, which continues to be a high priority for T-Bird Alumni, is to further engage the alumni in distance learning, lifetime learning and updates from the respective schools as well as the university. Tony referenced ASU’s School of Sustainability as one area of interest for global alumni. Seth also would like to see more opportunities for alumni to participate in continual learning and was eager for us to market such events together.
Tony shared T-Bird’s mobile app and its broad functionality. Seth said that ASU does not have something like this at present, but hoped that the school would build something sustainable for the entire ASU alumni community. Some features of the app include the ability to receive alumni news, find alumni in one’s geographic proximity and search for alumni.
Over the coming months, Seth and Tony plan to continue to collaborate together, introduce local chapter leaders of both entities and grow our understanding of each other’s alumni organizations and their needs and desire. The future looks very bright to both!
by Joy Lubeck, ’86, President, Alumni Council of Thunderbird
The Thunderbird Alumni Relations Office (ARO) and the Alumni Council of Thunderbird (ACT) are actively engaged with our Thunderbird chapter leaders regarding our go-forward strategy. At this time we have already met one on one and received feedback from the following chapters: London, Phoenix, Atlanta, New York, Sao Paolo, Washington DC, South Florida, Silicon Valley, with more chapter leaders scheduled in the coming weeks.
The feedback from our chapter leaders is being integrated into our draft strategic plan framework, that will serve as a starting document as we move into Vision 2015 as the 16th school at Arizona State University.
One of the top priorities is alumni re-engagement via our global alumni chapter network. Critical to this goal is the expanded development and support of our Thunderbird chapters and chapter leadership, which Terri Nissen, Senior Director of Alumni Relations, shared on the October chapter leaders teleconference where over 35 chapter leaders participated.
Some chapters are building on this initial outreach effort by leading small focus groups to further invite the voice of our T-birds into the process. Other chapters have distributed a short survey to better understand how the chapter leadership might add more value to its local alumni, now and in the future @ASU.
The interview is comprised of three sets of questions:
1. What types of current programs and services are extended to your local alumni?
2. Is there a positive response to the various offerings?
3. What are the opportunities for improvement?
4. What are your top challenges to date?
Future State: Thunderbird as a separate alumni group @ ASU
1. What are the exclusive future programs and services your chapter would want to prioritize for only Tbirds?
2. What might be some of the success metrics to which you would aspire?
3. What type of support might you need from Thunderbird and ASU?
Future State: Thunderbird and ASU, in partnership and collaboration
1. What might you and your local alumni constituency see as opportunities for collaboration with ASU and its other schools and institutes (e.g. School of Sustainability, W.P. Carey School of Business, Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law, Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering, Institute of Supply Management, etc.)?
2. What programs might Thunderbird chapters offer our new-founded ASU partners?
3. What might ASU offer Thunderbird alumni that would be of interest?
4. What would success metrics be?
Already our chapter leaders have provided great insights from which we will co- build the Thunderbird Alumni Relations strategy. Feedback will continue to be collected and shared with our Thunderbird global alumni community, so please stay tuned. And when the timing is appropriate, Thunderbird will share its vision and goals with ASU leadership in the spirit of evolving our promising future together.
In closing, we want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their participation and support as we move into a very exciting and historical time for our alma mater, Thunderbird School of Global Management.
On October 22, 2014, Janet Ackerman (Garber) ‘97 and Tony van der Hoek T-Bird ’89, ASU ’87 & ‘89 attended a personal development program on how to leverage social media tools such as LinkedIn and others in growing one’s professional network and finding the next career opportunity. The one-hour session was co-organized by Seth Dietchman, the president of Atlanta’s ASU Alumni and a W.P. Carey School of Business Alumni grad, and led by Daniel Guelzo of Optomi, an IT staffing firm with a consultant-focused approach.
Left to right: Seth Deitchman, Daniel Guelzo, Janet Ackerman, Tony van der Hoek and Mike Hosfeld (ASU alumni).
We were delighted to be included in such an event and learned a great deal about how to better utilize LinkedIn, Google and other tools to improve our career opportunity and business networking capabilities. We are now sharing these new skills with other members of T-Bird Alumni as well as hoping to schedule a webinar whereby Daniel can share his expertise with Thunderbird’s Career Management Center.
The Atlanta Chapter is looking forward to further collaboration and shared events and activities as we merge with Arizona State University.
By Tony van der Hoek ’89, Alumni Council of Thunderbird
As we begin the historic journey of integrating the Thunderbird alumni community with the ASU alumni organization, I would like us to consider the magnitude of this opportunity. As both an ASU and Thunderbird alumnus, I will only touch on some things to consider from our own Thunderbird heritage, but there are many more ideas that we will want to explore.
T-bird First Tuesdays
This has long been the foundation of our networking around the world. Suddenly, we will be able to invite more alumni members to these events. But now the conversation may change. Consider how we may continue to have a global dialogue and perspective, but welcome them to join us. Expanding our networking will revitalize us even more. As an example, 150 ASU EMBA students just graduated this year in Shanghai.
Much of the more visible ASU activities revolve around enjoying sporting events for the Sun Devils, and their professional sports graduates. Just recently, I was invited by the local ASU alumni chapter to a Braves vs. Oakland A’s game, where one of the A’s players is a Sun Devil graduate. What great times can we share together in the future? New friends, new networks and an expanded social life… doesn’t sound too bad?
ASU also organizes an impressive number of campus visits, conferences and promotions of the university’s capabilities from its collection of colleges, schools and institutes. Those assets will now include Thunderbird – the best Global Management School on the planet. How can we collaborate with them to learn how we are stronger together, to the outside world? More combined degrees, distance learning and the like? ASU alumni host “send-offs” of entering students to the school. Should we attend and share with Thunderbird entering students our best wishes, guidance and mentoring support?
We have Super First Tuesdays, where chapters are encouraged to invite prospective students to meet with alumni. Could we collaborate with the W.P. Carey business school or the Sustainability institute or one of the other schools under the ASU umbrella with this type of activity?
We need to recognize that ASU alumni will not only be from the W.P. Carey School of Business, but will also be from the schools of Engineering, Sustainability, Nursing, etc. What entrepreneurial and business activities common to Thunderbird alumni would be great opportunities for networking and collaboration with them? What opportunities do we offer them? As Thunderbird grows and fuses with ASU, the new T-bird graduates will have a master’s degree in global management, but perhaps a minor in sustainability, engineering, media communications, etc. Their backgrounds, experience and focus will be something for us to proudly embrace. Thunderbirds will look different in terms of specialty and experience in the future. What can we do to leverage these new opportunities for greater diversity?
Continual Learning and Faculty Engagement
At many T-bird alumni chapters around the world, we have strived over the years to host faculty and school administration events, hold panel discussions, welcome keynote speakers, and facilitate opportunities for alumni networking. I would believe that we would continue to offer all of these thought leadership activities, but for even larger audiences. Perhaps ASU alumni would like to co-host or co-sponsor such events? They certainly have leading faculty and business practitioners in their fields of expertise who could speak to us and expand our own view of the world we live in.
Faculty learning programs and executive education will be positively impacted by future collaborations among the ASU schools. Now, imagine the skills that you would like to enhance. Does ASU have those courses for you? Would you sign-up for an online program/course to refine your social media skills from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, for example? Would the faculty participate in local chapter events?
It has long been a tradition for Thunderbirds to gather together for special weekends around the world. What happens if we collaborate with our new ASU alumni colleagues and expand our global reunions to more locations? With our combined faculty and reach into the business world, imagine now what these reunions could become.
So, after all of this, I must say I am extremely enthused about what we are today, and what the opportunities are for us tomorrow. The Thunderbird we know will change. The school will be harder to get into, ranked higher in global educational rankings with the best ever rugby team (sorry, I was a T-bird rugby captain so have to throw that out there). Thunderbird alumni will be viewed as the best and most engaging and intellectually savvy on the cutting edge of the world… Wow, what a T-bird alumni community we will be! Please join my fellow ACT members in the dialogue about how we can get there together – as One.
By David Wittenberg ’93, ACT Strategic Planning Committee Chair
Thunderbird’s most remarkable asset, our alumni network of over 40,000 globally minded graduates, is poised for unprecedented growth and development. Since the Alumni Council of Thunderbird (ACT) was formed last year, we have been taking the pulse of the alumni and working closely with the Alumni Relations Office (ARO) to understand where the alumni want to go and how to get there. We learned that T-bird alumni want two things most of all: first, to boost Thunderbird’s brand value and second, to connect with other alumni.
ACT, the leadership team of the Thunderbird alumni network, has already launched a number of activities, such as monthly chapter leader conference calls. Some other plans have been held back by the school’s financial limitations and by the need to await completion of the merger with Arizona State University (ASU). ACT is using this period of transition to strategize and plan for the exciting future that we anticipate.
To assure that alumni continue to benefit from Thunderbird’s reputation as the leading graduate school for global management, ACT will continue to inform Thunderbird’s negotiating team about the desires of alumni regarding the things that make our school distinctive and valuable. We are addressing both the academic side of the school — advocating high admissions standards and a truly global curriculum – as well as the key alumni areas of interest – preserving the “Thunderbird mystique” and the way that the alumni network can be structured for maximum effectiveness.
Thunderbird’s reputation will reach its greatest heights when employers reward graduates with responsible positions and high salaries. ACT and the ARO are involving alumni in recruiting prospective students and in coaching current students to make sure that each new Thunderbird is a credit to the school. We have recently seen enhanced career services for alumni, and we look to expand those efforts with ASU.
Our strategy for improving connections between alumni touches numerous points. Through our One Thunderbird initiative, we have met, spoken with and corresponded with hundreds of alumni from various backgrounds, regions and points of view to bring all alumni together for the good of the school.
Much of our strategy is focused on our alumni chapters. Through the new platform of monthly conference calls, we are providing our chapter leaders with input and support to build engagement and participation in chapter activities. Through this process, our chapter leaders have had unprecedented access to representatives of the board of trustees and the school as well as an opportunity to participate in a call with the ASU President, Dr. Crow, back in July.
Following the success of the recent European reunion in Dubrovnik, ACT is working to increase the school’s support for future alumni reunions. New regional gatherings for chapter leaders have also been added to the development agenda.
ACT’s communications committee and alumni services committee have already contributed to fostering connections through regular alumni digests, timely information on the Thunderbird web site and an improved mobile phone application. We will continue to develop and expand alumni communications to boost engagement. Additional benefits and services are also being researched as we will benefit from the resources of the ASU alumni organization once the deal is closed in December.
While some uncertainty remains about the next chapter in the history of our alumni network, ACT believes that we will see increased resources, an influx of new members, an array of new networking opportunities, and a series of positive developments that will enhance the value of the Thunderbird brand. We expect to see alumni engaged, active, and receiving more benefit than ever from the Thunderbird global alumni network.
The strategy of the Thunderbird alumni community is your strategy. The members of ACT are committed to harnessing the power of our unique community for the benefit of all alumni and our school, the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Your input, questions and opinions are always welcome. Please feel free to contact us at ACT@global.t-bird.edu
By Anthony J. van der Hoek ’89, Alumni Council of Thunderbird
Change is an inevitable thing in life; it is life itself…
In my tenure on the Thunderbird Global Council (TGC), we had a great deal of debate about changing the curriculum and delivery methods for the Thunderbird degree programs. One of the major changes was the shift from the Master of International Management (MIM) to a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Some students and some alumni were upset and said that it would make us just the same as everyone else, that we would be copycats, following what others have and thus not differentiated… and that it would impact the brand of the school and our ranking. And yet, the change was made and many alumni chose to change their degrees from MIM to MBA. I did not.
Then the administration came with another change: adding e-learning, online courses, etc. Again some alumni and students said that it would detract from the MIM that was being delivered… Students and some alumni were not sure that e-learning was good for the program or the institution. Maybe people would get us confused with the University of Phoenix. I voted for e-learning and the online Global MBA. Well, as it happens, T-Bird e-learning programs have been incredibly successful… as we all know.
Then the administration brought to the TGC another idea: to expand our offerings. We then debated adding the Master of Science (MS) and the Master of Arts (MA) degrees; and again we had some students and alumni complain that these too would detract from the strength of the T-Bird MBA. Well; we all know the story there. The school was not negatively impacted, but again maybe you can imagine how some of the students and some alumni said don’t change… it will hurt my degree and the reputation of the school.
Suffice to say, none of the negatives happened. The school has been ranked #1 in International Master’s Programs in the United States for some 15 years straight. What I would conclude is that the brand of the school and its reputation are stronger than the individual nuances of changing a course or the name of a course. It matters who hires our students, who thinks the education is worth a #1 ranking, etc.
Students, and perhaps our international students mostly, may worry that, when they return to their country with a degree from an institution that is no longer a stand-alone institution, their degree will drastically decrease in value and that will impact both their own employability and the school’s brand. I have never had an employer say “that degree that you got changed names and is now different or is part of something else… Why? What happened?” They simply aren’t that concerned. We think it’s a big deal because… well, I am not quite sure… but the world outside of Thunderbird is not that fickle. They will say “Oh, you went to that great school Thunderbird, and you got a degree from the #1 Global School of Business Leaders… that’s great,” and then move on to another subject more in line with your skills.
Some of you may feel betrayed by the school, since from a “customer’s perspective” all of these changes aren’t what you signed up for. People may argue that if they wanted an Arizona State University (ASU) MBA degree, they could’ve gone there for a cheaper price, and a different kind of education. I may have a different perspective on this than most, as I have an MBA from the W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU and an MIM from Thunderbird. I gained from both of my experiences. One thing that everyone at Thunderbird still agrees upon is that once you share in its rich history you gain some of the Thunderbird mystique and spirit. We are all proud to be T-birds, and most people are happy with their decision to join the Thunderbird community.
Remember that students and alumni who went to Northwestern School of Business actually say correctly that they went to Kellogg, and those who went to the University of Pennsylvania to Wharton. That’s what we will be: Thunderbird School of Global Management at ASU… and we will keep the mystique, the oath, and all be part of One Thunderbird.
ASU President Dr. Michael Crow is going to take the foundations of what Thunderbird is and make it better, stronger and more inclusive than we could on our own. He is renowned for his innovation and growth. Our beloved institution will not only be merged into a great university, but it will be allowed to flourish like never before.
What are our students, faculty, staff and alumni enduring? We are enduring change; for our current students, this will be a life-long lesson in how to adapt to change… Some are questioning “who moved my cheese” and the old way was better… I tell you this, the world hires T-birds because of our intellect, our skills in managing different cultures, our flexibility, our ability to work in adverse conditions, and our passion that we believe that we can make this a better world. This experience, beyond your classes, will prepare you well to either weather change or lead change in your careers. I have always strived to lead the change… In your leadership roles as members of One Thunderbird, you can too. Help those around you to take positive steps forward and recognize that in the future Thunderbird will be ranked higher, will be harder to get into and will be respected more than it is today.
I do not say that the road will be easy, for it will not, but we must fight to make it and the world a better place.
I believe that we can win.
I believe that we can make a better world.
By Nona Niner ‘81, ACT Vice President
Over the past months and weeks, ACT has been reaching out to our Thunderbird Student Government (TSG) leaders to get a pulse on their issues, concerns and needs. Just this past week, Joy Lubeck, ACT President, had the pleasure of welcoming 132 new students to Thunderbird for the fall semester at their Foundations class and congratulating and welcoming our 64 graduating students representing 19 countries at commencement as they join the Thunderbird alumni network. In both encounters, she was inspired by the enthusiasm and passion of the students to fully embrace the possibilities as they set out on their new journeys.
During this period while the integration of the Thunderbird School of Global Management into Arizona State University (ASU) is agreed and approved, we ask ourselves who has the greatest need for our focus and guidance – our students! Both our recently graduated students and particularly our new and incoming students are witnessing great change with this merger. This provides a unique opportunity to be part of this next chapter in the history of Thunderbird, but also naturally brings with it some trepidation about the impact of this substantive change on their course of study and their job prospects.
We call on our Thunderbird alumni to embrace our current and graduating students and provide them a “lifeline” as mentors and supporters. What can you do? Here are some ideas:
- Take some time to respond to students or graduates reaching out for guidance or informational interviews
- Connect students with contacts in your personal and professional network
- Provide informal mentoring to students and new graduates as they determine their next career steps (contact Michael Seaver at email@example.com)
- Consider hiring a Thunderbird graduate and post job openings with the Career Management Center (contact Employer Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Introduce yourself to a current student or recent graduate at a T-bird First Tuesday
- Be a guest speaker for a Thunderbird class in your area of expertise
The impact of tangible actions in the spirit of One Thunderbird cannot be underestimated. If you would like to do more, please contact Michael Seaver at email@example.com.
We think that the new President of the TSG, Fiona Teerlink ‘14, summed it up the best: “During my Foundations session, one of our speakers said that we graduate into the Thunderbird community, not out of it. Whether someone graduated 20 years ago, whether we graduate now or whether we graduate in a year when Thunderbird is part of ASU, we have always been and we will always be united in one critical thing: we are all T-birds.”
What follows is the transcript from the welcome speech given by ACT President Joy Lubeck ‘86 at the fall 2014 Foundations
Good Morning and welcome to Thunderbird School of Global Management!
My name is Joy Lubeck; class of ’86 Thunderbird alumna, and President of ACT— the Alumni Council of Thunderbird, a representative body comprised of alumni volunteers, around the world, established to serve the global alumni community; and dedicated to the proposition of working alongside the School’s administration, Board of Trustees, and all key stakeholders, to uphold the vision of ‘One Thunderbird.’
It is my privilege to be here today, to meet you for the first time, and to welcome you all into the Thunderbird ‘family.’ I have been involved with Thunderbird in many roles for many years, both as a member of staff, and now as a volunteer alumni leader… and I am as passionate about our mission, vision and values now, as I was when I decided to become a T-bird student back in the 80’s!
I had a life-long dream… to attend Thunderbird. The time arrived for me, when my husband and I relocated from Chicago, Illinois, to Milan, Italy, and finally we were relocated to Phoenix, AZ! I was so exhilarated to fulfill my dream, my passion. We started our family at that time, and I graduated with two sons, 3 years and 7 months old respectively. And I’m pleased to note that my eldest son followed in my footsteps and earned his Thunderbird degree in 2010. A very proud moment for me.
At the time I attended Thunderbird, I wasn’t as aware of our higher mission and calling, but as soon as I began my Thunderbird experience, I realized it was far more than just earning an MIM (the Master in International Management)—a tripartite curriculum that wove international business, languages and international studies in such an amazing and relevant manner.I realized that I had truly come ‘home.’ I didn’t have to explain myself to my fellow students and faculty. They all came to this fine academic institution for the same reasons. Whether you call it the Thunderbird ‘mystique’ or the Thunderbird Global Mindset… our reasons for being here, then and now, are quite simple: We either had an amazing love of the world first, and wanted to apply best practices in global business education to that love; OR we came here as business people who wanted to learn more about languages and cultures as we realized the world is now global!
We were and you are insatiable and curious! T-birds are as comfortable in a board room as we are rafting down a river, or attempting zip-lining for the first time. We are resourceful, adaptable and entrepreneurial, as well as collaborative and supportive of one another. We get the job done!
By now, you may realize that Thunderbird was originally an air force base… and I’m certain you’ve seen the “Tower.” Back in the day, the planes landed in the field directly in front of the tower. Our first students had served the US military, mainly from the Air Force, and came to study international business, as they saw an opportunity to create value and peace, through business, but from afar. They had the same curiosity for languages, cultures and international travel that you have today. Our earliest graduates hopped steamers headed for Latin America, and were early adopters to the development of MNCs. We are so thankful to our founders for understanding the need to create peace through trade. One quote you will hear often comes from General Barton Kyle Yount, Jr.: “Borders frequented by trade seldom need soldiers.” And today, our mission remains constant: “We educate global leaders who create sustainable prosperity worldwide.”
So, as we reflect on 67 years of Thunderbird history, we have experienced much change and shift in our world. And today, the world hasn’t stopped changing. In fact, the pace just accelerates faster and faster. And you will all need to learn how to adapt to the change, embrace the change and lead through change. This is your time, your opportunity! You all find yourselves coming in as students in a time of great excitement and opportunity, and yes, perhaps even uncertainty, given the impending merger with Thunderbird and Arizona State University. However, you have this time to immediately apply your global business education to a new height… one perhaps you didn’t foresee, but if embraced full-on, this time in Thunderbird’s history could be one of the best experiences in your lives to date and could serve you very well as future global leaders.
I wanted to reach out to you today to talk to you about how the alumni network can help you along your journey. The Alumni Council of Thunderbird, together with the Alumni Relations Office, our fellow colleagues, staff, faculty and administration, and Board of Trustees want to assure you that we are committed to standing by you all along the way of this historical and momentous transition in Thunderbird’s history. There are 40,000+ alumni, alumni chapter leaders, members of ACT and Thunderbird Global Council who would like to extend our hand and serve as your mentors and guides as we travel this bumpy road together. You are part of our Thunderbird family. Our relationship building starts now! ACT is also working very closely with your Thunderbird Student Government leaders, our staff and administration, to further develop a mentoring program that will help you all along your journey here as a T-bird student. Please do let us know what questions you might have. Reflect and share with your TSG leaders, Fiona Teerlink, President and Tom Yu, VP, who are committed to listening to you and collaborating with you.
In closing, I encourage you to embrace this new world:
- Ask the right questions – ask with humility and never wear your degree or brilliance on your sleeve.
- Listen well – absorb all the knowledge which helps crystallise ideas… our faculty and your fellow students are a source of great knowledge and inspiration.
- Actively Seek feedback and gain multiple view points for any given set of problems.
- Identify roadblocks along the way; but also be part of creating solutions!
- Continue to learn how to relate to and communicate with people… it’s a critical leadership skill!
- Continue your educational journey in peace, and with courage in order to maximize your effectiveness as Thunderbird global leaders.
ACT and the global alumni community are by your side… as are your staff and faculty, administration and Board of Trustees. We are the Thunderbird network… We need to own it! If not us, who? If not now, when? We are ONE THUNDERBIRD!
I look forward to meeting you all in due course!
Good luck on your new T-bird adventure!