By Emma Livingston, Co-Editor
Thunderbird’s Emerging Market Laboratory (TEM Lab) is not only about providing high quality consulting for emerging market clients during the course of a five week project. It is also about building lasting relationships between Thunderbird and emerging market partners. From January 28th – 30th, Thunderbird hosted a special guest from Kathmandu, Nepal. Biplove Singh, Academic Director of King’s College came to Thunderbird to help cement a relationship between the Nepali business school and Thunderbird that started last year, when Thunderbird sent a TEM Lab team to consult for King’s College.
“My visit is also part of the exchange. I wanted to open this door,” Biplove said. “Maybe in the coming months or years, I can send a few of my students to Thunderbird, just the way you do with your TEM Lab.”
Biplove was impressed by the Thunderbird students he met. “The students are very serious about their work,” he said. “Be it related to their courses, their extracurricular, attending meetings, handling guests.” As for the campus itself, “You’ve got a beautiful campus. Lush, green trees everywhere. It’s clean, very calm. I feel like I’m relaxed. You don’t need to do yoga or meditation. The surrounding itself makes you relaxed.”
Biplove’s main interest in coming here was to learn about Thunderbird and the Phoenix area’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. “King’s College has just started growing,” Biplove said. “Entrepreneurship happens to be our core values. Thunderbird has 70 years of experience in academia and entrepreneurship. So I look forward to collaborate on many things.”
In line with his interests, Biplove met with Brad Hoffa, student liaison for the Thunderbird Angel Network, a group that connects investors to entrepreneurs with early stage companies that have the potential to grow rapidly. He also visited ASU’s Innovation Center and a few Phoenix area business incubators and start-up spaces, including Mod and Seed Spot. Everyone he met, Biplove said, was “very supportive, very cooperative and I got all the answers that I was looking for. They helped guide me on how did they come to this level in terms of incubation centers, how do they approach angel networks, how do they bring in the VCs [Venture Capitalists], and moreover, how do they train their students and make them ready to pitch their business.”
But it wasn’t all just business. Biplove got to enjoy American food: “I am very much fond of big, giant burgers. You bite a piece of it and a similar amount falls on your plate. So I like those big burgers.” He also got to experience the lighter side of Thunderbird, fighting jetlag to join the students at Thursday pub night, which, this week, had an 80’s theme. “We need a pub like this on our King’s College campus,” Biplove said. “Then, my enrollment would really go up.”
For me, Biplove’s visit was an opportunity to see Thunderbird, our campus and our students, from an outsider’s perspective. Speaking with him about our school gave me clarity on my own answer to the question I posted last week in Das Tor: What does Thunderbird mean to you? Thunderbird is a community and a place that I am proud to be a part of. Thunderbird is both a legacy and a vision for the future and I want the school to prosper and positively impact the lives of more and more people around the globe.