Astronaut Gets His MBA
Getting an MBA is hard enough. But what about getting an MBA in between flying to space?
That’s exactly what Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk accomplished.
In The Globe and Mail, Thirsk tells his story of how he the Canadian astronaut decided to pursue an MBA and what the degree means to him.
“It pushed me, it exhausted me. It also satisfyingly took me to my limits,” Thirsk tells The Globe and Mail.
‘The Best Learning Experience of my Life’
Thirsk, who completed a one-year full-time Sloan Fellows program at MIT, decided to pursue an MBA after accepting a job as director of the Canadian astronaut program.
Sloan Fellows is a highly selective MBA program. And it isn’t just for anyone.
“The one-year MIT Sloan Fellows MBA program attracts high-potential, mid-career leaders enthusiastic to discover new possibilities for innovation—and action,” according to MIT’s website.
The program’s class of 2019 had an average of 14 years of work experience.
Thirsk says he decision to pursue the program was to gain the necessary skills for management.
“I’m one of those people who don’t think that management is just common sense and intuition. I think there are some skills and frameworks and mindsets to acquire,” he tells The Globe and Mail.
Professional and Personal
Upon finishing his MBA, Thirsk was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime.
Canada had just joined as a partner in the International Space Station program and Thrisk’s boss wanted him to be the Canada’s representative as the first long duration astronaut.
“Even though I was excited about being the director of the astronaut program, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to do a long duration flight,” Thirsk tells The Globe and Mail.
Thirsk, who is now semi-retired, continues to work for the Canadian Space Agency today on top of a number of non-profits.
He says his experiences, if anything, have taught him that his space career requires more than just a professional outlook.
“Some of the experience of space flight is not just professional. It’s also personal. I spent quite a bit of time looking out the window at Earth and thinking about my family, about me, about civilization, at the future of humanity,” he tells The Globe and Mail.