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2021 Leaders in Graduate Education in International Affairs

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Arizona State University, Thunderbird School of Global Management

Creating Global Leaders for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Sanjeev Khagram, Dean and Director General, Thunderbird School of Global Management, Arizona State University

Take a virtual tour through the new headquarters of Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University, and the educational philosophy becomes clear.

A circular theater ringed by screens will allow direct communication with 14 Thunderbird offices worldwide, from Geneva and Jakarta to Dubai and Nairobi, with plans for six more hubs by 2025. There are also banks of tabletop computers and a massive holographic globe. Up on the rooftop, there is a pub.

“Our goal is to be the most global and digital school in the world,” says Sanjeev Khagram, dean and director general. “Everything we do is to try to transition every single student into a global leader. We want them to be future-ready.”

At Thunderbird, that goal means ready to manage the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the tectonic changes brought about by artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, genetic engineering, and other breakthroughs. Khagram says this preparation requires both special skills and a change in outlook.

“Every student needs a digital, global mindset,” he says. “It enables students to be comfortable in the most uncomfortable circumstances, to be agile and able to pivot and to work in teams of all kinds.”

Every student needs a digital, global mindset. It enables students to be comfortable in the most uncomfortable circumstances, to be agile and able to pivot and to work in teams of all kinds.Sanjeev KhagramThat philosophy runs deep at Thunderbird. It was founded in 1946 on a former military air base in Arizona as a school dedicated to international trade and global relations. Early students lived in barracks and gathered at the on-base pub (the rooftop facility is a nod to tradition).

Since then, Thunderbird has graduated more than 45,000 alumni, and the opening of the new building in 2021 will mark its 75th anniversary. The school merged with Arizona State University in 2015, and Thunderbird is now home to more than 1,200 undergraduate and graduate students, half of them from other countries. With customizable degree programs, courses at the undergraduate, graduate, and executive levels, and an internship rate that tops 95 percent, the school produces graduates who work around the world.

“Students are in the digital and global culture from day one,” Khagram says.

Stopping the Spread of COVID-19 in Guinea

The Republic of Guinea has 12.4 million people, yet COVID-19 deaths totaled only 75 by mid-November. Part of that is due to the work of Mamadou Diallo, economic counselor to Guinea’s US embassy and a 2020 Thunderbird graduate. Diallo, who completed the Executive Master of Global Affairs and Management program, led the team that designed Guinea’s tracking model, which reduced the spread of the virus.
||||Khagram says Diallo is the perfect example of the school’s global and digital philosophy at work.
“We take an amazing mid-career professional and give them a toolkit,” Khagram says. “It’s so exciting to see how the experience really transforms students.”

Arizona State University, Thunderbird School of Global Management
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