[[{"fid":"12971","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"An Educational Edge for Entrepreneurs","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":"An Educational Edge for Entrepreneurs"},"link_text":null,"type":"media","field_deltas":{"2":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"An Educational Edge for Entrepreneurs","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":"An Educational Edge for Entrepreneurs"}},"attributes":{"alt":"An Educational Edge for Entrepreneurs","title":"An Educational Edge for Entrepreneurs","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"2"}}]]You may already know that Phoenix is not Silicon Valley (this is a good thing) and that Phoenix is becoming a hub for innovative entrepreneurs (also good). But did you know that Phoenix offers an educational edge for entrepreneurs?

Today, all business is global business, so Thunderbird School of Global Management has programs to prepare entrepreneurs to start or expand a business with international exposure and reach. And with the diversity, affordability, and support systems available in Phoenix, a Thunderbird experience sets you up to succeed.

Many entrepreneurial T-birds have stories to share and are happy to point out the ways a Thunderbird education gave them an edge. – Click to tweet

Here’s a sample of Thunderbird’s offerings for future entrepreneurs:

  • Network with faculty who have real-world experience in growing businesses and with other top-tier students from around the world who have a diverse range of professional and cultural backgrounds.
  • Gain the maximum benefit from your education thanks to a smaller student/faculty ratio, which improves learning and communication among students and faculty.
  • Participate in initiatives like Thunderbird for Good, which tears down barriers to entrepreneurship with programs for nontraditional students in underserved markets. Today, graduates are in more than 60 countries creating jobs, sharing knowledge, and improving their communities.
  • Learn from successful alumni entrepreneurs such as Wolfgang Koester ’91, CEO of FiREapps. In his July 2017 Global Speaker Series keynote, Koester shared anecdotes and lessons from his journey, including the five stages of entrepreneurial success.
  • And more – check out a longer list here.

Like Koester, many entrepreneurial T-birds have stories to share and are happy to point out the ways a Thunderbird education gave them an edge. Take Fernando Cruz, for example.

From restaurant cleaner to corporate leader

Fernando Cruz, who completed the Executive Master of Global Management program in 2017, began his journey in the favelas of Brazil, where he grew up poor but learned the value of hard work from his mother. As a young man, Cruz came to the United States on the promise of a job, but it never materialized.

“So I started mowing lawns. Then I learned to do snow removal. Then I got a job cleaning restaurants,” he says. “It was tough, because I probably slept only two hours a day. I was going to school to learn English during the day. Then I’d go home, change clothes, and mow lawns. Then at night I’d shower and change and go clean restaurants. The next day, I’d go back and repeat. It was like ‘Groundhog Day.’”

“But the experience was valuable because it taught me the immigrant mentality,” says Cruz. “You do whatever it takes, working two or three jobs, 20 hours a day if necessary. And that mentality never really goes away – it becomes your competitive advantage.” For Cruz, the immigrant experience, it turned out, was great preparation for the entrepreneurial experience. 

“You do whatever it takes, working two or three jobs, 20 hours a day if necessary. And that mentality never really goes away – it becomes your competitive advantage.” – Click to tweet

Eventually, Cruz’s hard work led to an opportunity to start a small business – and it took off. “It grew like crazy,” he says. After hitting some bumps due to the recession of 2008, Cruz’s business rebounded. In recent years he began looking to go international. Cruz knew a master’s degree could better prepare him to lead such an expansion.

After researching programs, alumni, and rankings, he knew exactly where to go. “Thunderbird was perfect,” he says. “The Executive Master’s in Global Management program really focuses on numbers, and I needed to know how to make decisions based on numbers.”

Cruz also cites Thunderbird’s emphasis on systems and cultures. “It was important for me to get a master’s that would help me with connections and knowledge. The tools we get at Thunderbird really help us understand [global cross-cultural] differences. I wouldn’t get that in another MBA program,” he says. 

Phoenix is a great place to do business, but it’s also a great place to learn business. And that’s because Thunderbird brings the world into your classroom. – Click to tweet

The world in your classroom

Thunderbird’s reputation as a school “where the world comes to learn business” means that students from around the world feel welcome amid its rich diversity. But that’s not the end of it. As Bethany Chijindu ('17, Master of Global Management) puts it: “Cultural diversity is not limited to the social life of the students; it is deeply woven into the academic curriculum of the school.”

Chijindu, who spent her childhood in Zambia and Nigeria, wanted to learn business management, as well as how to see market opportunities and find solutions. “To do that, I needed business skills that I could apply on a global scale.”

She found all of that at Thunderbird because its core classes teach skills in a global context and all of its classes use case studies with a global perspective. “Plus, Thunderbird’s renowned faculty themselves are from around the world,” she says.

Thunderbird brings the world into your classroom. And that means Phoenix is not only a great place to do business, it’s a great place to learn business. 

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