Global Challenge Lab


Thunderbird’s Global Challenge Lab is a cutting-edge capstone course that engages Thunderbird students with global organizations to solve challenges related to growth and impacts. All full-time MGM students will participate in a six-credit Global Challenge Lab during which they will work full-time with a client in an international or domestic location.

This is a highly-collaborative, team-based, consulting project. Students will develop and deliver data-driven insights informed by prominent Thunderbird professors and rigorous academic coursework designed for today’s rapidly changing and increasingly interconnected global economy.

This program is a three-credit elective for students in the Executive MGM and MLM programs; it is a one-week immersive experience on-site at the client location.

Key Features

  • 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)
  • Earn 6 credits
  • Experience cultural immersion and professional growth
  • Manage a professional relationship with client executives, present analysis and solutions and receive and incorporate feedback

How the GCL Works

Introduction and Data Collection

Two Weeks | On-Campus | Phoenix, AZ

  • Learning fundamentals of consulting
  • Leading a kick-off call with your client
  • Identifying your client's current and ideal states
  • Becoming an expert in your client's industry, region, and project scope of work

Discovery and Analysis

Three Weeks | On-Site | Client's Location

  • Immersing fully with your client team
  • Conducting primary research with key stakeholders
  • Receiving faculty guidance and feedback
  • Preparing and presenting a mid-point deliverable
  • Beginning to analyze data collected

Analysis and Refinement

Two Weeks | On-Campus | Phoenix, AZ

  • Organizing key insights
  • Polishing and delivering final deliverable
  • Winning adoption for your recommendations
  • Completing individual course assignments
  • Celebrating completion of your project with the Thunderbird community

Past Projects


Ohio, USA: Students analyzed the pet food market in Eastern Europe and identified high-potential opportunities for multiple pet food brands within the Smucker’s portfolio.


Mexico City, Mexico: Students developed a customer engagement and loyalty strategy for the company’s users, both existing and future.

Siginon Aviation

Nairobi, Kenya: Students developed a market scale plan for a new mobile application that was a GPS-enabled cargo transportation marketplace.

Banco Davivienda

Bogotá, Colombia: Students analyzed the mobile money and remittances market to help inform the bank’s digital growth strategy.

Evergreen Labs

Ho Chi Min, Vietnam: Students proposed a market scale plan for a social enterprise’s closed-loop recycled plastic products within the Vietnamese market.

GCL Faculty Mentors

Host a GCL

A Thunderbird student smiling and shaking hands with a woman in Madagascar during the Global Challenge Lab

Our capstone consulting course, the Global Challenge Lab, offers organizations the opportunity to host a team of students on-site at your office for a period of three weeks. The talented MGM students will deliver data-driven insights to your organization’s specific challenge. The GCL delivers a unique value proposition to clients: the expertise and support of Thunderbird faculty combined with dynamic and versatile young professionals who apply modern global management practices and principles. Whether your organization is a business, government, or nonprofit—you can take advantage of Thunderbird’s global talent to access sophisticated data and market analysis, strategy recommendations, and practical, effective plans for sustained growth.