"...you don't dance in Latino the same way you do in English..."
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 3, 2005 12:00 AM
T-Bird's ties to Mexican university paying off

Yvette Armendariz

Seven years ago, Thunderbird, the Garvin School of International Management joined forces with a Mexican university to create a program aimed at growing Latin American business and government leaders.

The Global Masters of Business Administration for Latin American Managers would focus on international negotiations and cross-cultural communications, as well as business basics such as management, marketing and accounting.

With interest in growing markets and operations in Latin America, the move would be a natural. "We mainly did it because we saw all these Latinos with a need for a top-notch education," said Bert Valencia, director of Global MBA Programs at Thunderbird. The goal is to develop future executives of Latin American companies or division leaders of multinational corporations.

Later this month, the program will graduate a record 147 students. Altogether, more than 570 students completed the program. And the next two years could add 325 more graduates, based on enrollments today.

"Our hope is that by training people that we are helping international commerce," Valencia said.

Thunderbird and the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico, came together to develop the distance-learning program. This year marks the end of the sixth class.

Tecnologico was a natural pick for Thunderbird because of the Mexican school's reputation for teaching international management.

In developing the program, they found many prospective students were midlevel managers at big U.S.-based companies abroad seeking to climb their company's ranks. But those prospects find it difficult to take time off to pursue an advanced degree.

Valencia said a specific Latin American course was necessary because "you don't dance in Latino the same way you do in English." Thunderbird also runs similar global MBA programs in Russia, France and China.

Students start and end their two-year education in Glendale. They attend classes at any one of 15 sites in Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, El Salvador, Panama and Miami. Instructors teach out of Glendale, Monterrey and Mexico City via satellite, but students can interact by satellite or e-mail, Valencia said.

Eventually, Thunderbird hopes to add satellite classes in Texas and California because of their large Hispanic populations. Also on the drawing board are classes in Guatemala, Colombia, Brazil and Chile.

Students arrive on campus for their final class on July 16. Graduation is July 22 at Chaparral Suites and Resort in Scottsdale.

Reach the reporter at yvette.armendariz@arizonarepublic.com or (602) 444-4842.