Sustainability, Buddhism & Travel: Thai B-School Creates ‘Culturally Nimble’ MBAs

Chulalongkorn University’s Sasin School of Management. Courtesy photos

Thailand may not be the first country that leaps to mind when the subject is graduate business education in Asia. Ian Fenwick believes that should change.

Fenwick thinks Bangkok, Thailand’s capital city, is an ideal place in which to study. Not only does it have a sense of inclusiveness, says the director of Bangkok-based Chulalongkorn University’s Sasin School of Management, it also has the infrastructure to support business — particularly digital business. The city was recently rated the second-best place for digital nomads next to Lisbon, Portugal.

Moreover, Thailand — and Southeast Asia as a whole — is considered an “untapped market,” according to JP Morgan: By 2030, the multinational investment banking giant reports, Southeast Asia is anticipated to add approximately 140 million new consumers. Even earlier, by 2025, the Internet economy in the region is expected to generate nearly $360 billion in gross manufactured value.

“Thailand is a tremendously entrepreneurial country,” Fenwick tells Poets&Quants. “It’s creative, dynamic, digital, and a great place to start a business.”


Ian Fenwick: “I wouldn’t want to present Sasin as a religious school, but we do have Buddhist monks that come and help us with some of the courses.”

Fenwick believes that if you want to do business in Asia, you need to immerse yourself in the culture. And with so much rapid business growth on the continent, he believes that students must understand its implications in order to help take care of the planet.

“The future of business is totally uncertain,” says Fenwick. “We’re going to see perpetual disruption, and the answers aren’t at the back of a book. People must be able to understand — and operate within — different cultures, because culture is important to business everywhere.”

That’s why Sasin takes a different approach to business education. By focusing on equipping students with the skills to create a better world, the school integrates Buddhism, international travel, and sustainability teachings into its curriculum — all with the goal of making “culturally nimble” and environmentally responsible — students.

“We’re not trying to teach facts. We’re not even trying to teach frameworks,” Fenwick says. “We’re trying to teach people to be mindful, responsible, and consider carefully what is on the table, and the impact it will have.”


As the first internationally accredited business school in Thailand, Sasin School of Management is located in the heart of the county’s teeming capital city.

Led with the promise to “inspire, connect, and transform for a better, smarter, sustainable world,” Sasin is one of two business schools at Chulalongkorn University. As a private school within a public university, it was set up to be a “nimble alternative that teaches in English according to global standards.” Established in 1982 through a collaboration between Chulalongkorn University, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Fenwick says that an international, cultural element was ingrained into the school’s ethos from the start.

Although Kellogg and Wharton used to play a bigger role (for the first five years of the school’s conception, all of the school’s faculty came from Wharton, Kellogg, and international partners), they’re still involved to some extent; Each year, executive MBA students go to Kellogg or Wharton for a two-week residential stint. Over the last few years, Sasin has sent EMBA students exclusively to Kellogg.

Now, the school has partnered with 43 institutions across 19 countries. Plus, 60% of the school’s courses are taught by visiting faculty.

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