Thunderbird Global Council comes to Campus

By: Marissa Burkett, Audio/Visual Editor

During the first week of March, the Thunderbird Global Council, an elite group of business leaders with a vested interested in Thunderbird’s success, visited campus for their annual meeting. Over the course of two days, the Council was able to meet with a variety of stakeholders from new ASU and Thunderbird leadership, to other alumni, and current students. Students from many different programs were given the opportunity to interact and glean wisdom from the council. On Tuesday, March 3, they started the day at an executive breakfast that welcomed Thunderbird Presidential Fellows to the table, amongst others. Fellow Jeff Karlick (MBA, ’16), who was present, said, “Having the chance to meet with so many Thunderbird alumni was fantastic. It was great to see the passion that they have for the school and the relationships they had formed here as students will living on. Their success after Thunderbird was inspiring.”

Super First Tuesday at the Pub -- Photo Courtesy of Rick Beitman
Super First Tuesday at the Pub — Photo Courtesy of Rick Beitman

Later on in the day, a group of 30 or so current students joined a speed networking session with the council. Student were separated into groups and had spewed networking session with group of alumni, who were divided based on where they are in their careers (e.g., recent graduate, mid-career, executive). Ana Carolina Carrillo (MBA, ’15) was in a group with five others, “Speaking with the Thunderbird Global Council was a great opportunity to expose our ideas, doubts, concerns and obtain a perspective of how our careers can develop after graduation. It was a safe and collaborative environment that allowed us to showcase our experience and ambitions and get real-life feedback on how to achieve them.”

S.H.A.R.E. recipient Madiha Nasrullah (MBA, ’16) was able to meet Havas Worldwide Tonic Managing Director Martin Susz (’79) for an informational interview in regard to working in a global agency, “This was my first time personally interacting with the TGC, and it was truly inspiring to meet them all. I got a chance to meet  Mr. Susz, and count myself lucky to have met someone as accomplished as him in a field that I am interested in.”

Other activities included a special session with Dr. Michael Crow and Dr. Allen Morrison (summarized below) and a special Super First Tuesday at the Pub. Super First Tuesday brought together the council, alumni, and current students in a more casual atmosphere and allowed each group to interact.


The following is an overview of the Chairman’s summary sent to all members of the TGC:

In less than 24 hours the TGC engaged with senior ASU leaders, senior Thunderbird administration and faculty, and most importantly, more than 50 Thunderbird students. According to a few TGC members, the quality of the student engagement was some of the best they have experienced in over 10 years.

Key topics and outcomes from the meeting:


Thunderbird is on a new trajectory. Our foundation has been stabilized through the partnership with ASU. And while the future strategy is not yet finalized, the direction is beginning to take shape. Dr. Morrison laid out a few of his key goals… by 2020 to be a top 10 program in the Financial Times Masters of Management rankings and a top 10 global player in executive education. To achieve these goals it is imperative that the school start off this first year with a strong footing which is why the school’s main focus is recruiting a strong class of T-birds for the Fall 2015 intake, some ideas were brainstormed on this.  Dr. Morrison is very focused on the key elements to get the school back on track which are recruiting students, student employment, executive education and taking advantage of ASU resources.  Dr. Crow spent time with the TGC on Monday afternoon and relayed his strong vision for the Thunderbird brand within the context of the ASU Knowledge Enterprise.  Dr. Crow and Dr. Morrison are fully aligned on the vision of having Thunderbird back in the top rankings for its new categories.


The TGC worked on four important topics during the meeting: 1) Thunderbird Marketing & Brand, 2) TGC Role & Structure, 3) Career Management for Students and Alumni, 4) Scholarship Initiative for Fall 2015.

The Thunderbird brand is unique, it is strong, and ASU is just here to support Thunderbird; ASU should be seen as a resource here to support Thunderbird’s efforts to strengthen brand recognition and prowess.

The TGC asked for resources/information to arm themselves with the good news about Thunderbird and ASU;  a “Tool Kit” has been prepared and is accessible through the Thunderbird website:

The TGC remains an invaluable resource for the school; it is the main advisory body to the CEO. In addition, the TGC has been and will continue to be focused on enhancing the student experience. Specifically, in the coming months the TGC will be tasked with supporting the school in pre-enrollment activities (identifying and recruiting prospective students), current student support (mentoring, networking, speaking opportunities), and post-graduation engagement (jobs, externships, exec ed clients).


As important as our Thunderbird alumni are to the health of the School, the immediate focus of Career Management resources needs to be focused on jobs for current students.

In the medium/long-term, the idea of regional hubs makes a lot of sense for the school. While additional research is needed, the recommendation at this time is to focus the launch of the hubs in the regions of the world where Thunderbird is already well known and attracting students (e.g., Asia). Thunderbird is committed to increasing enrollment from Latin America and Europe; these hubs will require university, school, and alumni support to be successful since the current student base is not currently large enough.


The group proposed an “affinity scholarship” designed to engage the Thunderbird Chapters in the future of the School. From this idea the School has been working with a sub-set of the TGC and the Thunderbird Alumni Chapter Affinity Scholarship program (TACAS) is now a reality:

The TGC will continue to work on these initiatives over the summer and will reconvene in October 2015 on the Thunderbird campus in Arizona.

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