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November 13, 2010



by mikediliberto

Thunderbird has been on my mind a lot lately, mostly because I have just taken a new position as my first expatriate assignment, and I continue to run into Thunderbirds overseas at a rate that is pretty amazing.

I started to write a post about my upcoming move to China (coming soon), but I soon realized I needed to give some background first, specifically how I got where I am right now.

I’m a technologist by training, and along the way I had picked up enough business knowledge to advance reasonably far through my career.  A great deal of this knowledge was picked up from my mentors, members of my “personal board of directors” and my good friend, Google.  As I became less of a hands-on technical staff member and more of a manager, I felt increasing pressure to defend my decisions with sound managerial decision making. I had known for some time that I would need to go to grad school for my MBA at some point in the future, and my trip to China made me realize that international business was the future that I wanted.  And so, at the conclusion of my second trip to China, I started the MBA application process.

As hard as this is to admit, I initially shied away from Thunderbird.  I had heard that they had a very intense program, and I was considering working and going to school at the same time, and I just didn’t think that it would all work out.  Still, I decided to apply, if only to diversify my options.

After a year of preparation (Thank you, Kaplan), I held my breath and sat down for the GMAT, dutifully asking them to send my scores to Thunderbird, among my other school options.

Shortly after taking the test, the folks at Thunderbird reached out to me.  They had seen my scores, and although my application was not complete, they invited me to an event in Phoenix to come in and meet some Alumni.

After talking to a few alumni at the event, I had feeling that I had seldom had before;  I had met several people whose outlook on life and business closely mirrored my own.  I had found my people. A few hours later the event was over, and I knew that Thunderbird was where I belonged.

I still remember sitting one of our first classes; My classmates and I had just met, and as we went around the room introducing ourselves, I was struck with the same feeling that I had months before.  Here I was, in a room full of people that are just like me.  If I had any doubts whatsoever about whether I had made the right decision, those were gone before the end of the first day.

The next 19 months went by far too fast.  During that time, I had the opportunity to study in Europe and Asia as well as in the US.  I graduated just over a year ago, and miss it terribly (I wrote about that a while back, here).

So now it’s a year after Thunderbird and I am about to embark on the next adventure. Next stop: China.

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