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Embracing Change at Thunderbird

Photo Courtesy: Business Insider

By Giacomo Paccione

Change, the Business Dictionary defines it as “to make something different.” This word has been used in these past days, weeks, and months here at Thunderbird School of Global Management. This is a word that usually instils a negative reaction among the involved. A word that pertains uncertainty and fear. A word that defines the end of something. And I ask you. Are you familiar with this word? Have you experienced change? I believe that to both of the questions the answer is yes. Because we have all experienced change in our life, and we have overcome it successfully. It has trained us to become masters of this event. Now, we are witnessing big changes within our school, and I know we will again overcome them successfully.

Our school was founded in 1946 by Lieutenant General Barton Kyle Yount and was called the American Institute for Foreign Trade. Since then, we have risen to be the #1 Graduate School for International Business and we have developed the strongest international alumni network. We have achieved all this in the need for change. In the beginning the institution was a World War II military field with the sole purpose of training WWII pilots and it changed. The airfield was bought for a dollar and became a school dedicated to develop professionals in the area of international business. The school then continued to change through the years. It went from having one name to have more than five other names until our current, Thunderbird School of Global Management. The institution went from granting a Bachelor of Foreign Trade to currently grant a Master of Business Administration in Global Management. The school went from having an enrollment of 100 students to 1600 students and then back again. And through all these events the school is still here. Change kept our school alive.

Thunderbird has built our love for cultures, the curiosity for global traditions, the concern for global challenges and the admiration for global leaders. Because of these and other reasons we are hesitant for change. We have questions about the incoming transformation. We are eager to know the future of Thunderbird and its stakeholders; and I believe that our only comfort is to know that we will be part of the school’s next change. We will be part of Thunderbird’s history just like Chammah, Ergen, Davis, Tapiero, Shanks, Dudley, Moreno and many other successful alumni were in this campus. They faced change and now we face it. We decide how we will confront this time. Will it be with reverence for the past or with praise for the future?

With tough challenges, we as business students, usually look for solutions and answers in theories and data. And for our current situation, we should rely on Joseph Alois Schumpeter’s theory of creative destruction. This former economist and political scientist discovered that in Capitalism, firms are constantly being revolutionized by new enterprises. These enterprises bring new commodities and new commercial opportunities that destroy the old and build the new. This is a cycle that feeds Capitalism and innovation. And in our situation these enterprises have manifested in the Education industry. The industry has changed through factors like: open borders, rising tuition costs, nationwide declining enrollment, and competitive programs. And as such, Thunderbird has confronted these new circumstances with bravery but theory has been stronger than will.

So, now we face this time of creative destruction where we need to master change and become successful Thunderbirds that will carry with pride and honor the credential. We will survive this time and the school will survive change. This school was driven by change to defy tradition through decades and become the top school for international business. Thunderbird will continue developing successful professionals and we will graduate. But, most important will be the fact that we were part of change once more in our life, and we will overcome it successfully. We came here to learn how to become global leaders, let’s embrace creative destruction and let’s keep the name of this school at the top.

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