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Spring graduate focuses on maximizing opportunities, connections at ASU

A man in a dark tuxedo with short black hair, glasses and a beard poses for a photo.

Tallin Speek will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering systems with honors from Barrett, The Honors College. He is pursuing a Master of Global Management (MGM) from the Thunderbird School of Global Management through the 4 +1 program.

April 27, 2023

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

Tallin Speek entered Arizona State University with a hearty appetite for what the university could offer.

“I came to ASU as a freshman hungry to maximize my college experience and all the resources ASU had to offer me,” said Speek, who will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering systems with honors from Barrett, The Honors College. He is pursuing a Master of Global Management (MGM) from the Thunderbird School of Global Management through the 4 +1 program.

“During my first semester, I attended 60-plus events, from football games to speaker series on how to get into medical school. No matter the topic, my goal was to take away a new perspective from my experiences,” said Speek, who is from Boulder, Colorado, and received the ASU President’s Award Western Undergraduate Exchange scholarship.

Speek said experiences offered by the T.W. Lewis Center for Personal Development at Barrett resonated most with him.

“The center’s events focus on personal development through a speaker series, workshops and classes, which attract similarly motivated students from all different years, majors and backgrounds. Not only did I find exposure to invaluable perspective, frameworks and professional connections, but I also found an incredible community,” he said.

Speek attended an entrepreneur boot camp through the center and developed a business specializing in wetsuits for adaptive scuba divers, which led to connections with the director of global brand strategy and marketing at GoPro, a wetsuit design firm in Western Australia, the largest wetsuit manufacturer in Thailand, and a successful pitch through ASU Changemaker Central.

He also based his honors thesis, titled “Self-Awareness in Entrepreneurship” and focused on designing a course applying entrepreneurial frameworks to self-awareness, on concepts he learned at the Lewis Center.

Another standout experience for Speek was a class he took with ASU President Michael Crow called Science, Technology and Public Affairs.

“This class has been the most impactful and valuable of my time at ASU. It will affect my life and career path moving forward,” Speek said, explaining that the course helped him understand foundational systems in society, historical influences and systemic bias.

Speek has extended his entrepreneurial passion into his current work as a business development specialist at ASU LightWorks Innovation Accelerator, where he supports the transition of university research technologies related to alternative energy into public and private sectors.

We asked Speek to reflect on his ASU student experience. 

Question: What was an interesting moment, story or accomplishment in your ASU career?

Answer: Standing outside the Fulton Center before a class with Dr. Crow, I realized I was standing in the same spot during my tour of ASU four years previously. I have gone through numerous personal evolutions since that moment. I now have a completely different relationship with the campus and what I have come to know ASU represents.

Q: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

A: My love of building things with my hands combined with an interest in the science behind the components made for a natural path to mechanical engineering. After being exposed to mechanical systems and other opportunities at ASU, I realized I wanted to work with complex systems and the most complex system I could think of was humans. This has led me towards management consulting, company culture and operations and entrepreneurship.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: My favorite learning moments are when I walk away being unable to see the world how I previously had, having gained a new lens that expands my perspective no matter where I look. I have had these experiences from various engineering, philosophy, entrepreneurial and elective courses. One class on science, technology and policy fundamentally changed how I see the normative infrastructure in society, how it came to be, and the influence of those who created the underlying systems.

ASU also has taught me the freedom and expansiveness of self-initiative. There are so many incredible organizations and people who are a part of the university that anyone can seek out with a little curiosity, courage and drive.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU for the hands-on, project-based, open machine access engineering program. I have grown to love ASU for the incredible opportunities, communities and impact the knowledge enterprise drives.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Thad Botham, assistant teaching professor in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, taught me how to pose questions to invite peer discovery.

John Rajadas, associate professor in the Polytechnic School, taught me how to understand mechanical systems on a relational level.

Doug Guthrie, professor at the Thunderbird School of Global Management, taught me the importance of historical, cultural and political context when doing business.

Nura Mowzoon, instructor in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, taught me about attachment and relationships.

Courtney Klein, who led the entrepreneurship boot camp at the T.W. Lewis Center, taught me what it truly means to be an entrepreneur.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you would give to students?

A: Invest in who and what inspires authenticity, connection and gratitude in your life. The opportunities are out there, and if you don’t think they are, create them and like-valued people will find you.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: The Secret Garden, closely followed by the Vista del Sol Theater, both on the Tempe campus. Both places were where I met and spent time with the most impactful peers.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I plan to complete my graduate degree at Thunderbird, after which I plan to work in management consulting through a major firm in order to gain practical experience and apply the skills I have learned through the MGM program, learn global business from the inside, and connect with professionals around the world. From there I plan to be a facilitator in order to shed insight on blind spots at a global scale for authenticity and connection.

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

A: Authentic connection. I believe having a community to truly witness who you are at the core and accept and support that person leads to a more aligned, authentic and positive world.

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