The Thunderbird Experience

By |2018-11-09T17:54:26+00:00March 6th, 2018|Community, Culture|

Humans are built in unique ways, and not all of us share the same characteristics. Most notably from a leadership standpoint. Early in my career, I was obsessed with leading diverse teams and truly understanding what motivates people to drive results in the workplace. I took a chance at the age of 24 years old and applied to Thunderbird School of Global Management. The risk paid off and I earned my Masters in Global Management. The experience was invaluable to my outlook on globalization and transformed my leadership style.

Thunderbird was built with a mission to “educate global leaders who create sustainable prosperity worldwide.” Having experienced being immersed with people from all over the world, it truly challenged me. It challenged me in ways I never imagined possible. From communication styles, motivation factors, backgrounds, and even being the youngest student in my cohort earning respect from my peers. Communication was one of the most important success factors in being immersed with diverse teams. Understanding how my colleagues from Asia, Middle East, and Africa communicate and adapting to their styles was going to be a challenge. It was also going to be imperative to the success of our project work. Taking the time to build relationships and understand exactly how these cultures operate was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my program. An example I like to share is one of my Finance groups consisted of a student from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Paraguay, and India. We had a lunch meeting at the Paraguayan student’s apartment complex which turned into a 4 hour bar b que. I learned quickly that relationships take time, and the experiences shared should never be “rushed” but embraced. We built trust within each other and identified each others strengths and weaknesses. We had a people first mentality. We win together, we fail together, but that bond we developed will keep us united no matter what the outcome.

Upon graduation, I was eager to find the right opportunity that aligned with my values and leadership style. After being introduced to our Co-Founder’s Max Hansen and Brian Mohr, I knew it was right. Our purpose at Y Scouts is “transforming how people and organizations connect to work that matters.” My experience at Thunderbird was transferrable in the way that I have adjusted my style of building relationships in the workplace. Taking the time to get to know my colleagues at a deeper level and treating them like family. Our culture at Y Scouts very much supports this outlook. Looking back at my professional experience, I have never felt more connected to work that matters to me and the team at Y Scouts. The feeling of disrupting the traditional recruiting model is exciting. We are identifying leaders of the future who drive results, learn relentlessly, and develop others. These are the leaders I am so fortunate to be surrounded by daily. Thunderbird was an amazing experience for me and fueled my growth.

As Y Scouts continues to announce more and more global searches and expands, I know my education has prepared me to help lead this organization globally. Working with clients from different parts of the world is so rewarding. Seeing how we align global leaders and adapt to their styles is truly gratifying. Global business is moving at a rapid pace, and I firmly believe it takes a unique leader to lead high performing cross-cultural teams and I am excited for the challenges ahead.  I challenge those who are reading this article to get to know your neighbor or the person on the airplane sitting next to you. Ask about their life experiences and what shaped them into who they are. You will be amazed with your discoveries.

Dan Zlaket is the Director of Finance and Administration at Y Scouts. Y Scouts is an Executive Search Firm that connects companies and people to work that matters. As the Director of Finance and Administration, Dan juggles many projects at once. His background is in Big Box retail, so productivity and pace is important to him. His passion for people is what motivates him to continue to evolve the Y Scouts brand.


Y Scouts is a purpose-aligned, performance-proven leadership search and development firm focused on transforming how people and organizations connect to work that matters. When you’re ready to hire a new leader, Contact Y Scouts. If you are looking for your next leadership role within a purpose-driven, performance-focused organization, please join the Y Scouts Leadership Community.