Global Challenge Laboratories

Thunderbird applied learning courses enable students to actively apply course material to real-world, real-time organizational challenges. Thunderbird’s for-credit, applied learning courses are:

Offered in a variety of formats but typically involve real-world business consulting in team-based, client-facing projects.

Range from one to five weeks of full-time on-site work in another country to 13 weeks of campus-based work.

Our flagship Global Consulting Laboratories available to our Master of Global Management students are full-time, on-site consulting work in a dynamic economy.

The value of students with real-world experience

Student consultants are culturally adaptive, smart and motivated. Through participation in our applied learning courses, students acquire real-world experience, learn to work in cross-cultural teams, gain insights into new functions and industries and get strong resume building experiences.

 

Explore Each Challenge Lab

Global Challenge Lab

Global Challenge Lab

Thunderbird’s Global Challenge Lab is a six-credit, client-facing, project-based capstone course that involves a three-week immersion in an advanced or emerging market around the world. Projects are tailored to the business needs of the client and provide sophisticated data and market analysis, strategy recommendations and practical, effective plans for sustained growth.

  • Spend three-weeks working with a team of 3-6 classmates 
  • Receive support from Thunderbird faculty and staff.
  • Work for a real client (such as a multinational, local business, non-profit, university or government agency)
  • Manage a professional relationship with client executives, present analysis and solutions and receive and incorporate feedback
  • Experience cultural immersion and professional growth
  • Earn 6 credits
  • See Our Projects

    Read Blogs from the Field

     

    Past GCL projects include:

    Libbey Glass

    Myanmar: Developed sourcing opportunities for glass and tableware products.

     

    MegatitanRomania: Created domestic and international marketing and sales strategies for metal fabricator.

     

    Exxon MobilAngola: Evaluated and made strategic recommendations for Esso Angola’s Rural Development Program.

     

    African Development BankTunisia: Constructed incubator plan and sustainability strategy for community development organization.

     

    Executive Challenge Lab

    Executive Challenge Lab

    Thunderbird’s Executive Challenge Lab is a client-facing, project-based capstone course that involves a one-week immersion in an emerging market. Projects are tailored to the business needs of the client and provide sophisticated data and market analysis, strategy recommendations and practical, effective plans for sustained growth.

    Note: The Executive Challenge Lab is an elective course open to Thunderbird’s Executive Master of Global Management and Online Master of Applied Leadership & Management students.  The Lab is a competitive, application-based program.

    During an Executive Challenge Lab experience students will:

    • Spend one-week working with a team of classmates in another country
    • Receive virtual support from Thunderbird faculty and staff.
    • Work for a real client (such as a multinational, local business, non-profit, university or government agency)
    • Manage a professional relationship with client executives, present analysis and solutions and receive and incorporate feedback
    • Experience cultural immersion and professional growth
    • Earn 2 credits

    See Our Projects

    Read Blogs from the Field


    Past Executive GCL projects include:

    C2OThailand: Conducted feasibility study for high pressure processing strategy for coconut water.

     

    HydrosaPortugal: Developed hydroponic marketing strategy for geographic growth and innovation.

     

    MTEKPhilippines: Determined business strategy for disease testing kits.

     

    Fundacion BolivarColombia: Designed Commercialization strategy for “waste” by-products for fruit processing company.

     

    Consulting Practicum

    Consulting Practicum

    The Global Organizational Consulting, a 3-credit, client-facing, semester-long course, gives students an overview of the consulting industry and the role of a management consultant. While working directly with a client organization, students simultaneously learn in the classroom and become familiar with the tools and techniques used during a consulting engagement, including project entry, problem definition, intervention planning, data collection, problem solving, alternative generation, feedback, project exit, client relations skills and project management.

    Note: The Consulting Practicum is an elective course open to Thunderbird’s Master of Global Management and Master of Arts in Global Affairs and Management students. The course is a competitive, application-based program. 

    Students in the Global Consulting Practicum will:

    • Organize themselves into multicultural teams 
    • Work for a real client (such as a multinational, local business, non-profit, university or government agency)
    • Analyze and find solutions to real global business problems with the support of Professor Tom Hunsaker, Ph.D.
    • Present a high-stakes deliverable to the client at the end of the semester
    • Earn 3 credits

    Past Consulting Practicum projects include: 

     Helped develop 3M’s omnichannel marketing strategy in the Andes region of South America. 

     

    Enhanced IBM’s global knowledge transfer across the company’s international sales teams.

     

    Created a model for Esri’s strategic expansion into emerging markets.

     

    Developed model to increase pipeline efficiency and access to capital for under-capitalized businesses.

     

    Constructed a path to increased sustainability for the DNASU Sequencing Core Facility.

     

    Alumni Consulting Lab

    Alumni Consulting Lab

    Through our Alumni Consulting Labs, Tbird alums have the opportunity to work with diverse companies throughout emerging markets. Click here to visit the Alumni Consulting Lab main page for alumni applicants.

    Alumni Consultants experience their host country through unique interactions with Thunderbird faculty and other alumni, and by working through the SMEs’ growth challenges. Challenges may be related to subjects such as marketing & sales strategy, organizational structure, operations, or strategic initiatives. Consultants will be immersed in client organizations—focused on discovery, analysis and feedback around their clients’ defined business challenges—as well as the local business and cultural climate.

    Here is an article wrapping up the inaugural Alumni Consulting Lab in Bogotá, Colombia written by the TEM Lab team and another written by one of the alumni participants. 

    Past Alumni Consulting Lab projects include:

    Emprende PaisColombia: Worked on business strategy issues for four SMEs. 

     

     

    Some of our Clients and Partners

     

    Thunderbird Applied Learning Team

    Charles Reeves '09 - Executive Director, Thunderbird Applied Learning

    Charles Reeves '09 - Executive Director, Thunderbird Applied Learning

    Charles Reeves '09
    Executive Director, Thunderbird Applied Learning

    I enjoy working at Thunderbird because I am able to facilitate learning experiences for really impressive young professionals who are, and will, impact their worlds. Seeing our Thunderbird students invest in their professional and personal growth, and what they get out of that investment, is as much “job satisfaction” as a person could ask for.  

    Some of my most memorable travel experiences include adapting to life in rural West Africa, working with honeybees in northern Ethiopia, the enigma and charm of Nepal, my first exposure to South America in Peru, the architecture in Prague, the rainforest and coastline of Madagascar…and the beauty of all of it.   

    On my to-do travel list, I have the Amazonian rainforest, Alaska, and so many isolated beaches and mountains…  

    My ideal consulting engagement would be working with a community, region or nation on food, energy, and water systems independence.

    Kate Robertson '11 - Associate Director, Thunderbird Applied Learning

    Kate Robertson '11 - Associate Director, Thunderbird Applied Learning

    Kate Robertson '11
    Associate Director, Thunderbird Applied Learning

    I enjoy working at Thunderbird because of the community. The professional and cultural diversity of students, faculty and staff guarantees that you’ll have a really interesting conversation with anyone you encounter.

    Some of my most memorable travel experiences include hiking to see the gorillas in Uganda (while on my TEM Lab!), touring Buddhist monasteries in rural China, walking through mountainous coffee plantations in Colombia, dancing to Huayno music in the Peruvian Andes, and riding British-era trains through Myanmar.

    On my to-do travel list, I would enjoytouring tea producing regions in Sri Lanka, riding the Trans-Siberian express, and attending the Festival au Desert in Mali.

    My ideal consulting engagement would involve helping an SME in Central America figure out how to sell its superfood products in the American market. I enjoy working with Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs and love health foods!

    Tom Hunsaker, Ph.D. - Academic Director, Thunderbird Applied Learning

    Tom Hunsaker, Ph.D. - Academic Director, Thunderbird Applied Learning

    Tom Hunsaker, Ph.D.
    Academic Director, Thunderbird Applied Learning

    I enjoy working at Thunderbird because I have the ability to influence in meaningful ways next-generation leaders who go on to impact nearly every corner of the globe (and learn from the same). Thunderbird is unlike any other place.

    Some of my most memorable travel experiences include receiving flute lessons from an indigenous family my wife and I had just met in Otavalo, Ecuador. Conducting innovation workshops to budding entrepreneurs in Africa. Sharing with my kids our favorite taco varieties in Mexico. Engaging talent in Europe, Latin America, and various parts of Asia focused on innovations to make their regions (and the broader world) both more productive and more sustainable.

    On my to-do travel list, I’ve visited and had wonderful experiences on every continent but Antarctica. While not the most socially interesting location, I don't like leaving puzzles incomplete.

    My ideal consulting engagement would be less about a particular client and more the nature of the work. I'm constantly drawn to high-stakes scenarios with an innovation orientation. Scenarios in which getting 'it' right can transform for good an organization's or industry's outlook.

     

     

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