Success Story: An Astronaut with an MBA Degree (Quick Reads)

Success Story: An Astronaut with an MBA (Quick Reads)

In need of some inspiration? Guy Dixon, feature writer at The Globe and Mail shares a motivating story of Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk’s journey towards an MBA degree at MIT.

Helpful for: MBA Applicants

Read Time: 7 minutes

Quick Facts:

  • Among degrees in mechanical engineering and medicine, Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk completed an MBA from MIT between his Space Shuttle mission in 1996 and an endurance test in 2009 lasting 188 days.
  • Thirsk has publically shared that the MBA was the best learning experience of his life.
  • After his endurance test in 2009, Thirsk wondered what his next step would be professionally. He had the option to take the job as director of the Canadian astronaut program— however, he decided to get management training first. Dixon comments:

Selected Quote:

This is, after all, someone who methodically pursued science classes from a young age, studied engineering at the University of Calgary and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and got his medical degree after following the advice of a professor to add that to his credentials. There’s an obvious pattern here, and he still firmly champions education, using himself as an example. “I’m one of those people who don’t think that management is just common sense and intuition. I think there are some skills and frameworks and mindsets to acquire,” he says of his MBA.

  • Thirsk enrolled in the one-year Sloan Fellows program at MIT geared towards mid-career professionals. He shares that in his lectures, students did half of the talking. The professor would present the material and afterwards through sharing stories, the class would analyze and reflect on the point that was made.
  • Sure space missions are tough, but as Thirsk admits, an MBA was not an easy journey either. He shares that it pushed him to his limits and was an exhausting experience.

Useful Information:

  • Thirsk shares that in order to get through a solid education, he had to sacrifice some of his interest as a child, including social sciences, humanities and the arts. He is an advocate of the arts, and adds an “a” for STEAM learning. He believes in cross-disciplinary education, as according to him, that’s how our world functions.

What do you think of Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk’s success story? Share your thoughts in our forum!

Source: The Globe and Mail

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