The Start of the Next T-bird Legacy

Courtesy of Thunderbird School of Global Management

By Mary Grace Richardson, Editor-in-Chief

When I accepted an offer to be part of the Spring 2018 graduating class at Thunderbird, I wasn’t quite sure how the end of my time here would look. I didn’t know about the relationships we would form, the inimitable place we would call home, the goals that we would each would strive for, nor the life-changing opportunities that would come from all of these. That’s because somewhere along the line, all of us changed. We took a plunge, and more than anything else, many of us have come to recognize and internalize that Thunderbird is bigger than what we’re doing now — it’s our future.

Here are the experiences of graduating students who truly understood this and what it did to prepare them for their next leap:

Courtesy of Matt Salazar

Matt Salazar (MAGAM ’18)
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA)
Corporate Leadership Development Program – Internal Auditor
Auburn Hills, MI

What drew you to this company? 

I have been drawn to the automotive industry since I was a young man modifying cars out of my garage. The passion has continued on with me through my time as an automotive technician, working on show & race cars, to my undergrad in Mechanical Engineering. In the last few years FCA has made some dramatic changes in their strategies and financials. CEO Sergio Marchionne has been leading FCA since 2009, before this it was in a bad position and he has dramatically untangled management’s layers of bureaucracy that were holding the company back. He has been extremely transparent about the company, giving great insights into the company’s plans for the future. This plus the diverse portfolio of offerings and the cosmopolitan feel of the company make it an ideal company for me.

Which skills did you gain at Thunderbird that prepared you for this position?

Thunderbird has given me an abundance of skills that I will carry with me into this position. Some of the most valuable skills gained during my time at Thunderbird, and that helped my personal development, have come from interactions with current students and alumni outside of class. It has been an honor to learn from their global experience, whether it be cultural norms to how global business is conducted in different parts of the world. During school I was taught different leadership structures, financial analysis, cross-cultural communication, how to analyze at a high level, and how to have a cosmopolitan outlook. Thunderbird really taught me how to approach situations from a diverse standpoint and how to stay open-minded. I have had the privilege of taking many transformational courses during my time here. A few of the standouts would be professor Moffett’s FORAD, Ramaswamy’s Global Strategy, and Hunsaker’s Global Organizational Consulting. These courses really helped develop me further and prepared me to work in a global organization such as FCA.

Is what you’ll be doing next what you had thought you’d be doing when you started Thunderbird?  

I have had a long, indirect path to get where I am today, from an automotive technician and working on show/race cars to my undergrad in Mechanical Engineering. Ten years ago I would have never imagined myself getting to this point, but when I started Thunderbird two years ago it was to transition into the corporate world. Before coming to Thunderbird my background was more hands-on, and I lacked traditional office experience. Because of this, the leadership development programs really appealed to me, especially the programs with automotive companies. Auditing wasn’t what I envisioned, but I really think it fits with my skills and will help with what I want to do in the future. The CLD program would really be the finishing touch in my development and is a great transition point from my hands-on background to my corporate aspirations.

What are you most excited about in starting this new chapter?

Opportunities that are challenging but force me to grow are things I will take with me for the rest of my life. I am excited to move to a new city, where I get to travel, learn new things and meet new people. This program will provide me a better understanding of the organization and build critical relationships needed to excel in the future. I have been diligently working to get to this point since my passion for the automotive industry was realized, and I am thrilled to have finally reached one of my goals.

Who would you say most supported you during your job searching “journey”?

There are many people who have encouraged me, but I would like to say thanks to my mother for helping me prepare and practice behavioral questions. I would also like to thank Pier Armando Vender (MAGAM ’18) for reaching out to an alum Brad Hoffa (MGM ’17). It was really he who kept me focused on my original goal when coming to Thunderbird, and working within the automotive industry. I was listening to people around me and not narrowing my focus to the automotive industry at the time. When he heard I was moving through the process with a company that was a good company on paper but not in my ideal industry, he steered me back on track and really became an advocate for me getting this position. He said no, I am not going to work there and that I needed to send him my resume. He did not hesitate to reach out, and I will be forever grateful for the help he provided me in ensuring I got where I wanted to go in life.

What would you like to say to your fellow graduating T-birds?

“Success is never final, and failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts” – John Wooden

So, don’t wait on your dreams, it’s our time!

Is there anything you’d like to include that wasn’t covered in the previous questions?

I would like to thank all the people throughout my journey thus far that have helped me grow and supported my dreams along the way.

Courtesy of Laura Bainbridge

Laura Bainbridge (MAGAM ’18)
Honeywell
Supply Chain Rotation – Aerospace
Phoenix, AZ

What drew you to this company?

I interned for Honeywell last summer in supply chain and enjoyed it. This is something new for me as my background is in sales and marketing so I have no previous supply chain experience. I think the aerospace industry is very interesting and exciting, and Honeywell is a global company with lots of opportunities.

Which skills did you gain at Thunderbird that prepared you for this position?

At Thunderbird I gained not only practical skills for my new career but networking skills as well. I learned a lot about finance especially, since I don’t have a background in that. Going here has helped open so many new doors and opportunities for me.

What would you say most contributed to your success in getting this position?

At my internship I was given a very vague project that involved putting together a standardized procedure system for part of our inventory organization, pull and vendor managed inventory (VMI). There were many different systems in place for organizing inventory based on the supplier, how often we went through the part, etc. I was able to complete the project by taking initiative and contacting the leads at 13 sites around the US and Mexico for input. Each site had a different variation of the same system, and it was causing confusion. I had to understand how each system worked, find commonalities to bring together, and write out a procedure for a unified system without much initial direction. It was a challenging project, but I was able to complete it by the end of the summer.

I would say that doing a good job and completing this project last summer helped me to obtain this position. They already knew me at the company and saw that I could produce good results in during my “trial run” there.

Is what you’ll be doing next what you had thought you’d be doing when you started Thunderbird?

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what my next step would be when I started Thunderbird, I just knew that I would have some great new opportunities. Shortly after we started I began to learn more about, and take an interest in, supply chain. I decided to look for a supply chain internship so I could get a feel for what it was about and see if it would be something I enjoyed. If that didn’t work out I was planning to return to the marketing world. Luckily I had that opportunity! 

What are you most excited about in starting this new chapter?

I am excited about starting my career and this new phase in my life. It will be great to meet new people and learn new skills. I am also looking forward to making some money and paying off my student loans!

Who would you say most supported you during your job searching “journey”?

My family was very supportive, as well as one of my old co-workers, Zuhair, at my previous job. He’s from Iran and was the one to tell me about Thunderbird and encourage me to apply having previously worked with Thunderbirds before retiring from the elevator industry. My parents were supportive throughout the whole process as well.

What would you like to say to your fellow graduating T-birds?

I’m excited to see what everyone will be doing! I am so happy to have gotten to know you all and formed a global network, and I hope you have all made meaningful connections as well. If you are still looking for a job, don’t get discouraged! The right opportunity will come along and it will all work out. Keep networking and use your connections.

And of course, congratulations to everyone on graduating!

Courtesy of Laura Quintero Cervantes

Laura Quintero Cervantes (MAGAM ’18)
Siemens

Commodity Management Professional II
Chicago, IL

What drew you to this company?

As a T-Bird, you desire to work with a company that has a global mindset and wants to shape the future. In my case, I also sought to work with a company that truly cares about sustainability; Siemens is just that. Thinking outside of the box, being mindful, and working towards excellence is something I know that I can do at Siemens. It’s a company that, besides being global and diverse, designs and manufactures energy-efficient and resource-saving technologies. It’s a company where I can imagine myself being at a C-level role just because it has a woman as a CEO in its US Corporate division. At Siemens, you can work to change people’s lives for the better, while supporting the development of technologies that can help sustain our planet.

Which skills did you gain at Thunderbird that prepared you for this position?

Thunderbird provided a deep exposure to other cultures and important business knowledge that I know will be essential in my professional career. Interacting with different perspectives and learning about cultural expectations has been eye-opening. Being an international student myself, it was fascinating to interact with students, faculty, and alumni who also have a global mindset and differing backgrounds. Thunderbird gave me the opportunity to practice and learn how to network. I visited and met with alumni in Germany, the Czech Republic, and Japan; all of these visits were unforgettable. Thunderbird also helped me stay open-minded and attentive to what is happening in the world. I took classes where I had moments of epiphany that I will not forget. Some of these were, Dr. Auh’s Global Customer Decision Making and Global Strategic Services Marketing classes, Dr. Ramaswamy’s Global Strategy class, Dr. Rankine’s and Dr. Ramaswamy’s Developed and Emerging Markets class, and Dr. Leclerc’s and Dr. Javidan’s Communicating & Negotiating classes.

Being part of Das Tor, as the media editor, allowed me to develop my social media management and publishing of print editions skills. Creating and managing #HumansofTBird revealed a different angle on how to connect with people and listen to their different points of view on their cultures. Moreover, getting to know Thunderbird’s staff made me realize that great people are not always publicly recognized but are still loved and admired by those whose lives they touch, and that is what matters the most.

What would you say most contributed to your success in getting this position?

Getting out of my comfort zone to start a conversation with C-level executives and being confident when interacting with them.

Is what you’ll be doing next what you had thought you’d be doing when you started Thunderbird? Or are you surprised?

To answer the first question, I would say yes and no. Before starting at Thunderbird, I wanted to go into procurement because I could see its direct relationship with sustainability, but once I started classes, Marketing caught my eye. I wanted to do a certificate in supply chain or international commerce, but it was not given at the time, so I decided to pursue one in Marketing, which I do not regret. When deciding which field I wanted to go into, I had a very difficult time deciding between the two. At the end of it all, I desired a job where I could do both, but that seemed impossible to find. To my surprise, the job I will be doing at Siemens brings these two different worlds together. It is astounding to me that I will be learning and implementing both aspects of business at the same time so soon after my two years at Thunderbird.

What are you most excited about in starting this new chapter?

This new chapter will reveal a new side of who I am and what I am capable of. I am excited to know how I would react to unexpected events in unknown environments and learn, each time, how to better respond and adapt. I am also excited about moving to a new city and meeting new people while learning new professional skills at a job where I will be doing two things I love, Procurement and Marketing. I am eager to bring Sustainability into practice whenever possible to my first full-time job.

Who would you say most supported you during your job searching “journey”? And how?

I had a great group of people who supported me on my job searching journey and whom I am thankful for. Starting with my parents, who were big motivators each week, if not every day. My boyfriend and his family, who were very supportive and enthusiastic at all times, and SHARE Fellowship, which was responsive to any inquiry and assisted me with advice every step of the way. María Houle and Professor Elizabeth Macdonald were there for me since the beginning, from the creation of my resume and cover letters to advocating for me to network. I wanted to thank each one of you, for all the love and support given to me during this valuable season.

What would you like to say to your fellow graduating T-birds?

It has been a pleasure to spend these past two years with people who have so many talents and skills. It was fun to learn from each one of you and to travel with some of you. Congratulations on graduating! All the hard work (and the caffeine consumed) paid off. I am excited to listen to your success stories once we meet again in the future.

Is there anything you’d like to include that wasn’t covered in the previous questions?

I would like to encourage my fellow international students to not give up on their job search. I know it has gotten harder to find a job with all of the politics and regulations involved, but do not let that bring you down. There is hope. I really worked hard on being hopeful and persistent in my job search. It is a difficult process; especially when you get the automated rejection emails – because you will require sponsorship in the future – but surround yourself with people who support you. That was essential for me.

Get out of your comfort zone, network, network, and do more networking; something will come your way. Be confident in who you are and what you want; share your global mindset. There is a company looking for someone just like you.

Courtesy of Haley Jones

Haley Jones (MAGAM ’18)
Hilti
HR Specialist – Talent Acquisition
Plano, TX

What drew you to this company?

The more I learned about Hilti, the more I enjoyed their company culture (very Thunderbird-esque). I came to greatly appreciate the fact that Hilti has had a historical relationship with Thunderbird. Our mindset is what Hilti looks for!

Which skills did you gain at Thunderbird that prepared you for this position?

The ability to communicate, socialize, and even present information in a very pragmatic way prepared me for this position, which are things I feel you learn outside of the classroom at Thunderbird.

What would you say most contributed to your success in getting this position?

The CMC was a valuable partner for me through the entire process of securing the internship, which led to my full time offer. I utilized CMC resources to prepare for my interviews and also for support when evaluating details of my full time offer.

Is what you’ll be doing next what you had thought you’d be doing when you started Thunderbird?

I came to Thunderbird looking to change career paths, but I had no idea what I was interested in doing. For a while I worried I would never figure it out. When I got the sales internship with Hilti, I wasn’t necessarily interested in sales. I went in saying to myself, just add value everywhere you can and be transparent about your interests. It worked!

What are you most excited about in starting this new chapter?

Being a part of a talent acquisition team is my dream job, so I am excited to see where that takes me!

Who would you say most supported you during your job searching “journey”?

Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

What would you like to say to your fellow graduating T-birds?

Don’t be afraid to try and make your own opportunities.

 

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