Thunderbird Global Business Dialogue tackles leadership challenges

dialogue2Thunderbird School of Global Management launched an ongoing discussion about leadership in the 21st century with a signature business conference Nov. 10-11, 2011, at the Glendale Renaissance Hotel and Spa in Arizona. The inaugural Thunderbird Global Business Dialogue drew more than 1,000 business, government and social sector leaders from more than 50 countries to explore the theme, “Redefining Global Leadership.”

Thunderbird alumnus Robert Dudley, CEO of BP Group, began the event with a speech on “Leadership in Times of Crisis,” where he stressed the virtues of “determination, a thick skin and a quiet sense of optimism” in order for beleaguered executives to succeed. He also recommended that managers should try to listen to “the quietest voice in the room” and should never lose track of their values, despite scrutiny or hardship.

Dr. Craig R. Barrett, Retired CEO/Chairman of the Board for Intel Corporation, gave the lunch keynote on challenges presented by emerging markets and the necessity for the US to enhance innovation in order to compete better globally. Dr. Barrett, who is also a member of Thunderbird’s faculty, left the audience with three pieces of advice: “The world will always accept talent with open arms. You can’t win unless you compete. A small deed done is better than a big deed planned.”

The evening keynote was given by Jose Maria Figueres, the Former President of Costa Rica, who challenged the audience to envision a world in the future that had been irreversibly impacted by pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and advanced climate change. “There is no planet ‘B,’ Figueres said. “Depending on the decisions we make, it will be pleasant or increasingly inhospitable.”

The second day of the Dialogue featured breakout sessions on a few of Thunderbird’s key areas of expertise: energy management, family business, global branding and private equity, as well as deeper panel discussions on social media and financial solutions for global growth. Mark Penn, Worldwide CEO, Burson-Marsteller and CEO, Penn Schoen Berland, gave the ending keynote on global reputation management, a topic he knows well from his background as a political strategist. Penn discussed the techniques he used to help elect more than 25 leaders in the United States, Asia, Latin America and Europe, and has why he has been called “Master of the Message” by Time magazine for his “Numbers + Creativity = Strategy” concept.

The Thunderbird Global Business Dialogue is Thunderbird School of Global Management’s first attempt at holding a keynote international business conference in Arizona or globally, and was the largest event the school has held to date. Over the course of two days, more than 1,000 attendees including many Thunderbird alumni and 95+ world-class speakers and panelists from all over the world participated.

The next Global Business Dialogue will be held in Berlin, Germany in May 2012 and will focus on European Perspectives. For more information, please see

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