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ASU ranked No. 20 in US for shaping future leaders

TIME and Statista’s inaugural Best Colleges for Future Leaders list recognizes Thunderbird at ASU for top leadership, management education


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Outside of the classroom, Thunderbird's Global Challenge Lab consulting capstone allows students to lead by doing, embarking on interactive projects with businesses and nonprofit organizations around the world. Every semester, the project groups report out on their findings to the Thunderbird community as a culmination of their efforts. Photo courtesy the Thunderbird School of Global Management

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December 20, 2023

Influential leaders’ success stories are often aided by great career opportunities, vast network connections and powerful learning tools — all of which can come from a transformative education experience.

Arizona State University was recently recognized for its ability to provide this launchpad for success in TIME and Statista’s inaugural Best Colleges for Future Leaders list. ASU was ranked No. 20 in the United States for shaping future leaders, ranking ahead of University of Southern California, University of California-Los Angeles and Johns Hopkins University.

TIME and Statista specifically recognized the Thunderbird School of Global Management as a “notable subsidiary” of ASU, regarded as a prominent school within the ranked institution for its top leadership and management education.

“America’s future success will rely on bold, innovative thinking across sectors, and that means we need leaders from all communities who are prepared for the opportunities and challenges facing our nation and planet,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “This analysis from TIME is further proof positive that our 21st-century institutional design is competitive and capable of producing the future leaders we need.”

To determine this list, TIME and Statista compiled the resumes of 2,000 top leaders in the U.S. and identified which universities and colleges they received their degrees at. This group of leaders spans a gamut of sectors and industries and ranges from politicians to chief executive officers, union leaders, Nobel winners and more.

“Our vision at Thunderbird is to be the most global and digital leadership and management school in the world, equipping students to thrive and lead in this next era of global disruption,” said Sanjeev Khagram, director general and dean of Thunderbird. “We are truly honored to be recognized by TIME and Statista as an instrumental institution within Arizona State University for these efforts. Together, as the No. 1 school for international trade and management, Thunderbird, within the nation’s No. 1 most innovative university, ASU, we are building the next generation of global leaders that will achieve inclusion, innovation and impact to create equitable and sustainable prosperity worldwide.”

For over 75 years, Thunderbird has established a proven track record of excellence in leadership and management education, holding numerous top recognitions — among them, No. 1 in international trade (QS International Trade Rankings 2023), No. 1 in master’s degrees in management (Times Higher Education 2019) and No. 20 worldwide for custom executive education offerings (Financial Times Executive Education rankings 2023).

With a presence across nearly 15 regional Centers of Excellence worldwide, Thunderbird has developed a curriculum specifically designed to create the next generation of global and digital leaders, equipped to tackle the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. With an alumni network over 45,000 strong, graduates of Thunderbird manage some of the world’s leading organizations, institutions, companies, nonprofits and NGOs.

Thunderbird students hone their leadership skills within the classrooms of the technologically advanced Thunderbird Global Headquarters, utilizing cutting-edge technology and multidimensional learning spaces, including a VR language lab, tabletop computers, green-screen studio, full XR production and development studio, and a volumetric capture lab that creates full, three-dimensional renderings for faculty and student initiatives. This technology facilitates connections key to immersing students in their disciplines while allowing them to collaborate on a global scale.

“At Thunderbird, we have introduced curriculum that prepare students to be future ready, including courses on the metaverse, analytics and machine learning for global business, inclusive leadership, AI and the future of work, and global digital transformation, just to name a few,” said Lena Booth, professor and deputy dean of Thunderbird’s Academic Enterprise. “Almost all of the classes are taught via a flipped classroom approach, providing students with opportunities for collaborative work and active learning. Generative AI such as ChatGPT is incorporated into many courses as a supportive technology to help enhance students' critical thinking and problem-solving skills, allowing them to work efficiently in this fast-paced, ever-changing environment."

Outside of the classroom, Thunderbird students take their coursework global, learning by doing and embarking on interactive capstone projects with businesses and nonprofit organizations around the world.

This fall, over 150 students embarked on 26 global projects for their capstone Global Challenge Lab (GCL), a required course for all Master of Global Management students, involving team-based, client-facing, project-driven consulting. The projects spanned the globe, with students working with clients in Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Japan and Brazil, among others.

These tailored GCLs provide Thunderbird students with specific experiences curating solutions on-site for global clients — such as UberEats, Smucker, Equinix, ING and others — across the globe, from Asia, Europe, Latin America, Africa and the United States. 

The scope of the projects ranged from international market entry or expansions to turnaround strategies, marketing campaigns, digital transformation and operational improvements for public, private, nonprofit and international organizations.

“Thunderbird’s Global Challenge Lab connects our students with partner organizations to equip them with the skill sets they need to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” Khagram said. “By the end of their program, our students have gained the experience needed to succeed in their future careers and in essentially any community across the globe."

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