Think Tank MBA training brings together worldwide free-market leaders

Think tank mba 2015
Think Tank MBA 2015 graduates and Atlas Network staff.

Working toward a free society can often seem like an uphill battle, but that struggle is shared by Atlas Network partners across the globe. They all have valuable ideas and proven strategies for success to learn and to share with each other. Think Tank MBA (TTMBA), Atlas Network’s flagship training program within Atlas Leadership Academy, brings leaders within both new and established think tanks throughout the world together for a 10-day strategic planning curriculum.

Beginning on Friday, Oct. 30, TTMBA participants focused primarily on drafting a strategic plan for their organizations and gained customized leadership advice from Rainer Heufers (founder and executive director of Center for Indonesian Policy Studies in Indonesia), Daniel Anthony (vice president of marketing and communications for Atlas Network), Ann Fitzgerald (president of A.C. Fitzgerald & Associates), Kris Mauren (co-founder and executive director of the Acton Institute); and Linda Whetstone (chairman of Network for a Free Society in the United Kingdom).

Rainer Heufers, founder and executive director of the Center for Indonesian Policy Studies in (Indonesia) provided perspective from his years of think tank leadership.

TTMBA participants completed the “Campaign Challenge” course, during which groups chose a topic and created a campaign to influence public policy around the issue. Participants also began practicing their 60-second presentations for the John Blundell Elevator Pitch competition. The program concluded on Tuesday, Nov. 10, coinciding with the start of Atlas Network’s Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner.

Participants joined the TTMBA program from a variety of international backgrounds, leading groups that focus on many different practical policy challenges but which all share a common theme of working toward a more peaceful, free, and prosperous world.

Daniel Anthony, vice president of marketing and communications for Atlas Network, leads a TTMBA training session on marketing, communications, and messaging.

Big Brother Watch, an Atlas Network partner based in London, campaigns for greater individual control over personal data and monitors privacy violations in both the private and public sectors. Renate Samson, chief executive of Big Brother Watch, was one of the many participants in this year’s TTMBA program.

“How often do busy people get the opportunity to step back, breathe and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their organization?” Samson asked. “TTMBA has given me and my classmates that opportunity, and it has been invaluable. Being taught how to create a strategic objective has given me an easily implementable framework. This process will enable great ideas and great people to flourish rather than flounder. Big Brother Watch will benefit from the TTMBA and for that I thank you all.”

Tim Andrews, executive director of the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance (Australia); Jonathan Moody, managing director of Acton Institute's PovertyCure (United States); Renate Samson, chief executive Big Brother Watch (United Kingdom); Bican Şahin, president of Freedom Research Association (Turkey); and Nena Whitfield, executive director of Ladies of Liberty Alliance (United States).

PovertyCure, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., is a project sponsored by Atlas Network partner the Acton Institute that has produced a website, documentary series, and group study curriculum devoted to changing the international aid conversation by appealing to the entrepreneurial spirit. Jonathan Moody, managing director of PovertyCure, came away from this year’s TTMBA program with valuable insights for his organization’s future.

“I am so thankful for the TTMBA experience and for the supporters and staff that made it possible!” Moody said. “As a result of the program, I now have a clear vision and plan for success as well as the needed framework to navigate the challenges ahead in executing the plan. I also now have 21 new amazing lifelong friends and collaborators from around the world. Thank you, Atlas Network!”

Alexander Skouras, associate director of institute relations for Atlas Network; Minna Joseph, chief operating officer for Centre for Public Policy Research (India); and Bican Şahin, president of Freedom Research Association (Turkey).

Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR), an Atlas Network partner based in Kochi, India, devotes its efforts to a wide range of current economic, social, and political issues, including matters of governance, education, health, law, livelihood, security, and urban reform. Minna Joseph, chief operating officer for CPPR, particularly appreciated having the opportunity to learn directly from the leaders of other Atlas Network partner organizations.

“TTMBA has been very insightful and inspiring for me in many ways,” Joseph said. “But the two most important learning was (1) it gave a platform for 22 think tank leaders to share their best practices and learn from each other; and (2) the strategic planning and development was particularly useful as it helped me to evaluate, think clearly and move ahead with a clear plan in my head.”

Marija Vyšniauskaitė, head of the education centre for the Lithuanian Free Market Institute (Lithuania); Roberto Munita, executive director for Instituto de Estudios de la Sociedad (Chile); Admir Čavalić, founder and director of Multi (Bosnia and Herzegovina); and Michael Rotich, co-founder and executive director of Eastern Africa Policy Centre (Kenya).

Multi (Udruzenje Gradana), an Atlas Network partner based in Bosnia and Herzegovina, promotes the ideals of free markets and individual liberty to young people and the country’s citizenry, encouraging their active participation in the processes of social change. Admir Čavalić, founder and director of Multi, found that participation in TTMBA provided him with an entirely new frame of reference for leading his organization.

“I think the most important thing that I am taking away from TTMBA training in 2015 is that I got absolutely new perspective of the things I did for many years,” Čavalić said. “I think I've developed a particular strategic orientation and vision of the environment for the think thank that I lead, which will help me to progress in the future. Also, TTMBA was a very inspiring place for me, where I got dozens of new ideas on how to redesign my organization, to start a new project, hire someone, or establish a functional board. Most important of all is that I have finally realized the importance of concepts such as strategy, mission, vision and SWOT [strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats] analysis. It's the things I already knew, but I never understood why they are important for the work of a libertarian organization. Now I know, and thanks for that. I recommend TTMBA for those who are curious in discovering their own, but also their organizations’ hidden potentials.”

The 2015 Think Tank MBA participants:

  • Tim Andrews — Executive Director, Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance (Australia)
  • Sam Bowman — Deputy Director, Adam Smith Institute (United Kingdom)
  • Admir Čavalić — Founder, Multi (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
  • Juan Sebastian Chamorro — Executive Director, FUNIDES (Nicaragua)
  • Mahmoud Farouk — Executive Director, Egyptian Center for Public Policy Studies (Egypt)
  • Alex Gladstein — Chief Strategy Officer, Human Rights Foundation (United States)
  • Lissa Hanckel — Director of Development, Universidad Francisco Marroquín (Guatemala)
  • Julie Hernandez — Program Management Director, Instituto de Ciencia Politica Hernan Echavarria Olozaga (Colombia)
  • Minna Joseph — Chief Operating Officer, Centre for Public Policy Research (India)
  • Jonathan Moody — Managing Director, PovertyCure (United States)
  • Roberto Munita — Executive Director, Instituto de Estudios de la Sociedad (Chile)
  • Miloš Nikolić — President, Libertarian Club Libek (Serbia)
  • Edgar Ortiz — Executive Director, Centro de Estudios Económico-Sociales (Guatemala)
  • Michael Rotich — Co-Founder and Executive Director, Eastern Africa Policy Centre (Kenya)
  • Bican Şahin — President, Freedom Research Association (Turkey)
  • Alvaro Salas — Founder, Democracy Lab (Costa Rica)
  • Renate Samson — Chief Executive, Big Brother Watch (United Kingdom)
  • Patricio Toussaint — Researcher, Centro de Investigación para el Desarrollo A.C. (Mexico)
  • Raza Ullah — President, Alternate Solutions Institute (Pakistan)
  • Marija Vyšniauskaitė — Head of Education Centre, Lithuanian Free Market Institute (Lithuania)
  • Nena Whitfield — Executive Director, Ladies of Liberty Alliance (United States)
  • Jordan Williams — Cofounder and Executive Director, New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union (New Zealand)