After Unprecedented Turnaround, Thunderbird Soars Again

Thunderbird Dean Sanjeev Khagram celebrates the launch of the 100 million learners global initiative with Francis and Dionne Najafi in January. The initiative, made possible by a $25m donation from the Najafis, will educate and empower 100 million learners by 2030, with 70% of them women. (Photo Credit: Thunderbird School of Global Management)

LOOKING AHEAD: THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

Central to Thunderbird’s vision of the future is creating leaders for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. If steam power mechanized production in the first such revolution, electricity enabled mass production in the second, and information technology automated production in the third, the Fourth is all about the blurring of boundaries between our technological and physical worlds. Advances in AI, robotics, The Internet of Things, and other technologies will drastically change business and our lives in the coming years. “Global leaders are critical,” Khagram says. 

The most obvious symbol of Thunderbird’s reclaiming global mantle is the $85 million F. Francis and Dionne Najafi Thunderbird Global Headquarters at ASU’s downtown Phoenix campus, named for the alum who once vowed to never give another penny. 

Thunderbird hosted a Global Challenge Lab Celebration in its Haas Digital Global Forum in March. (Photo Credit: Thunderbird School of Global Management)

“We wanted to give every student the resources to change the world so we built the most technologically advanced educational headquarters on the planet,” the school says on its virtual tour of the new building. The five-floor, 110,000-square-foot building features 9 state-of-the-art flexible classrooms, the VR language lab, a Global Decision Theater, a Greenscreen studio and more. 

Christine Pearson

The headquarters opened to students in the fall, but the pandemic delayed an official grand opening event. This week on Founder’s Day, Friday April 8, some of the thousands of alumni in Phoenix for their global reunion will see it for the first time. It rounds off a week of activities celebrating the school’s anniversary–and its rebirth.  

Looking to the future, Thunderbird will on Friday also launch the first course in its 100 million learners initiative. The one-of-a-kind initiative seeks to bring world-class business education to underserved communities around the world by the year 2030, 70% of whom will be women. 

“Many are quick to point to the new building, its award-winning architecture and techno-advances. That remarkable symbol was funded and resourced largely because of the revised spirit and support of our alumni, which was energized by the dean. The building’s form and décor capture the open, global, forward-thinking spirit that has always characterized the best of Thunderbird,” Pearson tells P&Q.

“However, the elevation of women into faculty and staff senior leadership, and the achievement of gender equity in faculty salaries are even more significant advancements for the future of Thunderbird. Dean Khagram is the soul of these changes.”

Learn more about Thunderbird here.

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