By Emma Livingston, Co-Editor
Imagine having a full course load, participating in Thunderbird’s intensive TEM Lab, and taking part in whirlwind international trips, all while dealing with the stresses and work load of an executive-level full-time job. Meet Thunderbird’s Executive MBA students, a diverse, accomplished cohort who come to the Thunderbird campus every other weekend to build their professional network and master how to do business in any part of the world. I spoke with four of our current EMBA students to learn about their program and what brought them to Thunderbird.
Our E-MBA students came to Thunderbird for many different reasons. Eric Boehm (USA) hopes to come away with a business idea: “My mom was a flight attendant growing up so I did a lot of international travel through standby tickets and I always enjoyed and appreciated the knowledge gained through travel. I want to find a way to create an international business where I can travel and create peace through business.”
For Ignacio Sanchez (Chile), “Thunderbird is the best school of international business in the world,” and he is impressed by “the global network of the school.” Emily Brott (USA) agrees: “I have always been obsessed with international experiences, and new languages and cultures. Thunderbird was really the only choice for me when I decided to pursue an MBA.” Arnab Gupta (India) explained his reasons for coming to Thunderbird this way: “I wanted to get a deeper understanding of managing businesses, especially in this globalized world. My wife, Kalpashree Gupta, who is herself a Thunderbird grad, also served as an inspiration for me. I saw how the program helped her develop a holistic global business perspective.”
All the students I spoke to told me that the best part of their Thunderbird experiences has been their interactions with their cohort. As Emily put it, “My cohort members are absolutely fantastic–I have learned so much from them and I know that I will continue to learn from them throughout my life.”
Along with their cohort, all the students were hugely enthusiastic about the wide variety of international experiences available as part of the EMBA program. Ignacio told me: “During my program I traveled to seven countries (Chile, Peru, Russia, Czech Republic, Germany, Mexico and Colombia). The most memorable trip was during my TEM Lab experience in Bogota, Colombia helping a small company to grow and improve its operations.”
Arnab took three trips during his time at Thunderbird: A trip to China (Beijing and Shanghai), a trip to Europe (Moscow and Prague), and a TEM Lab to Thailand. He was especially excited by the week-long TEM Lab in Thailand, where the team found a little piece of home where they could get their work done. “We stayed at a hotel with a hospital next to it that had a Starbucks in the lobby. The Starbucks was our hangout spot in the morning especially since the hotel did not have a restaurant and there were no other places to eat nearby.”
Emily’s international experiences allowed her to reconnect with her German host parents from her high school foreign exchange experience. “A couple of T-bird colleagues and I met up with my former East German family recently during a Thunderbird trip to Russia and the Czech Republic. After having learned so much during the MBA about the impact of Soviet culture on business development in Russia and the former Soviet Republics, including East Germany, my connection to the host family only deepened on this last visit.”
For Eric, the EMBA trip to Chile and Peru was the most memorable: “In Chile one of our Cohort members and now a life-long friend of mine, Ignacio Sanchez, got an opportunity to give me a tour of the city that he grew up in. His passion and love for Santiago was inspiring and makes me want to move to South America one day. In Peru I got the opportunity to meet some of the local Shamans and go through a spiritual ceremony with them. It was a life-altering experience.”
Our EMBAs are optimistic about Thunderbird’s future as part of ASU. Ignacio said, “I think with the financial strengths that ASU can provide to the school, Thunderbird should reclaim its status as the best school for international business and global management in the world.” Arnab agrees: “I remember a quote from Dr. Crow during the transition of Thunderbird from being an independent school to being part of the ASU Knowledge Enterprise. He had said, ‘I want Thunderbird to be to ASU what Wharton is to UPenn’. I too share this vision for Thunderbird.”
Emily has an inspirational vision for Thunderbird’s future. “I envision the school to maintain and even strengthen its brand and its products, with a super-solid alumni network that continues to push and motivate each other to achieve great things. A wonderful friend and T-Bird colleague recently shared this quote from Michelangelo: ‘The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.’”
Many EMBAs believe the school should do more to integrate the EMBA students with the full-time students. “There should be a mixer with all students so that they are able to interact right in the beginning of the program,” Arnab told me. “There should be a student book or page where students can connect.” Ignacio encouraged full-time students to introduce themselves to the EMBAs. “I would encourage full-time students to reach out to executive students. I think the EMBA – EMGM students can be a great resource for students that may need internships or jobs after graduation.”
Born: Jamshedpur, India
I am a professional Civil Engineer by training. I am a Sr. Project Manager with AECOM. In my role I am involved with new business development and delivery of transportation projects. In 2015, I was nominated by Mass Transit magazine as “Top 40 Under 40” achievers in the transit industry in the USA.
Born: Detroit, Michigan
I spent a lot of time as a kid in Buenos Aires, Argentina visiting my mom’s side of the family. I’ve been in IT and Medical Sales for the last 8 years and I’m currently with a start-up that went public a year ago called Workiva.
Ignacio Sanchez Alfonso
Born: Santiago, Chile
Current job: Export Specialist. I currently work in international supply chain for the sixth largest food distributor in the United States. My business portfolio includes operations and customers in 28 countries.
Born: Cincinnati, Ohio
Cincinnati is a city that was built by German immigrants. Cincinnati’s downtown is called “Over the Rhine” since the city is located along the Ohio River, which looks very much like the Rhine River in Germany. Due to this German heritage, Cincinnati has a bilingual German-English school that I began attending in Kindergarten. My family is mono-lingual, so my attendance of this school is what awakened my passion for other ways of seeing the world. The multi-cultural exposure is what led me to eventually learn four languages and become a T-bird. I remember learning German songs and games starting at age 5, and I was excited that there was a language I could learn that my parents could not understand!
You can find the EMBAs this weekend at the Pub, winding down after their intensive two full days of classes. I encourage everyone to spend an hour or two at our beloved pub getting to know your fellow students.