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ASU Thunderbird graduate leverages degree to drive global impact


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April 24, 2023

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2023 graduates.

Equipped with international travel experience as a young adult, Matthew Pepper knew early on that a global career was in the cards for him. Raised in the Houston suburb of Spring, Texas, Pepper had the opportunity to travel with his family around the world.

These experiences delving into other cultures heavily influenced his decision to enroll in a Bachelor of Global Management program at Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University. 

Matthew Pepper portrait
Matthew Pepper

“I knew that I wanted to incorporate the global ecosystem in whatever work I do,” the Mississippi-born graduate said. “And at Thunderbird, you are exposed to an incredible level of diversity and experience found nowhere else.”

After graduating this spring, Pepper will continue his education at Thunderbird through the accelerated master’s degree program – and he hopes to leverage the knowledge and network built from his degree to start his own private equity firm after he obtains his master’s degree in 2024.

As his four years in the undergraduate program come to a close, Pepper reflects on all that he has learned – and all that he continues to gain – from his education.

“My experience at Thunderbird has been one of constant learning — be it from my classmates and their myriad of viewpoints, experiences and cultures, or the professors who bring just as much diversity," Pepper said. “Moreover, everyone is friendly and pursues the same quest to understand others, so facilitating discussion and learning from others is a constant.”

Question: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

Answer: Financial literacy, especially in the U.S. where we leverage our wealth more than in other regions of the world. I think that financial literacy is key for people to manage their households and build businesses and wealth for themselves; therefore there should be some institution that serves the nation to increase its people's financial literacy. It is even more important to address the asymmetrical distribution of the financially literate and provide classes and tools for the historically undereducated. 

Q: What advice would you give to a student just starting a program at Thunderbird?

A: Keep an open mind. While the personality that Thunderbird attracts often doesn't have that problem, I would argue that as a Thunderbird you are exposed to an incredible level of diversity and experience found nowhere else. 

Q:  For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

A: I feel most grateful for the close group of supporters that have had my back and have stuck with me through my life. Additionally, I feel incredible gratitude for the life and opportunities that I have been given; I hope to continue to fill that life with even more amazing experiences and even more amazing supporters. 

Q: What motivates or inspires you?

A: Enabling the facilitation of others' dreams while playing a part in creating something new. This passion allows me to gain truly interdisciplinary experience, while also maximizing my knowledge through learning from experts and people who are passionate about their work. Additionally, playing a part in creating companies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, I believe that we could see a productivity shift multiply greater than the Industrial Revolution, and knowing that I'm playing my part in history makes me incredibly excited.

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