November 5, 2018 Print

First begun in 2008, Atlas Network’s Think Tank MBA program is the Leadership Academy’s flagship, 10-day program for free-market think tank leaders and executives. Think Tank MBA 2018 brought together 21 individuals representing 18 countries.

During Think Tank MBA, participants learn valuable skills in strategic planning for their organizations and sharpen their leadership and fundraising abilities. The Think Tank MBA class will be presented at this year’s Liberty Forum and Freedom Dinner, during the annual John Blundell Elevator Pitch competition, where participants will have one minute to pitch their organization to the audience of several hundred attendees.

Over the ten days, participants engaged in sessions on strategic planning, goal setting, marketing & communications, fundraising, and management. While each participant individually crafted a business plan unique to their organization, there was no shortage of collaboration as their fellow cohort members were there to share their experiences and challenges in these areas. They all now have a community of leaders in the liberty movement all over the world that they can lean on for advice even after the closing session of Think Tank MBA.

Here is what a number of participants this year thought of the program:


Kristina Ribali workshops her pitch with Susana Donaire (México Evalúa) and Louis Houlbrooke (New Zealand Taxpayers' Union) during the Crowdsource session at Think Tank MBA.

Kristina Ribali, Chief Operating Officer, The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (FREOPP, United States):

“I was really hoping to learn specific tactics or tools that would help FREOPP advance and reach our individual donor communications and fundraising goals. The Think Tank MBA not only taught me several practical tools to reach our fundraising goal, but the dynamic of learning from many other leaders in the industry also helped us identify weaknesses and opportunities we hadn't previously identified.

The most impactful session for me was the board management session. As a relatively new organization with a very dynamic board of directors, I'm excited to apply what I learned during the Think Tank MBA to better leverage the talents and abilities of our board.

I'm incredibly grateful to Atlas Network and its donors for the opportunity to attend the MBA program. Even though I have been in the think tank universe professionally for more than a decade, I learned incredibly valuable tools, and more importantly, how to implement them into our organization that I have no doubt will help propel The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity to the next level.

The opportunity to learn from a team of think tank leaders from more 18 countries was invaluable. The discussions and practical tools taught during this training will benefit FREOPP for years to come.”


Aneta helps workshop another attendee's project during the Crowdsource session.

Aneta Vaine, Director of Development and Programmes, Lithuanian Free Market Institute (Lithuania):

“Think Tank MBA is an exceptional program in that it provides a very systematic framework of think tank management and navigates you through all of its key elements in a hands-on manner as you develop and refine your real-life business plan over the ten days of training. I find the training to be extremely effective in putting across the difference we can achieve if we start with our winning aspiration and do the planning from the future backwards, by meticulously linking our internal and external analysis to come up with strategic moves.

We have been kept right on track in this mindset throughout the training and I am sure it will persist beyond. One of the most exciting parts of the programs for me has been individual leadership skills development and the discussion about biases and blinders in our decision making that was supported with a most compelling case study we worked on. I will definitely revisit these discussions back home to help myself better manage decision-making.

Above all, Think Tank MBA has been a phenomenal opportunity to share and exercise with peers in the liberty movement from so many different backgrounds and with so many different perspectives. This experience has been incredibly eye-opening and inspirational.”


Deane Jayamanne listens to other Think Tank MBA participants during the Crowdsource session.

Deane Jayamanne, Director, Advocata Institute (Sri Lanka):

"Think Tank MBA has exceeded the high expectations I set for this program. I am impressed how it takes a very hands-on and practical approach to business plan development. The focus is very much on the implementation and not based on 'exercises' that are intent on teaching methods. I hope to take the specific learning from the program into implementation, as well as replicate some of the sessions back home so as to take my team together through the process and hopefully to get them to see the things that I saw in the program.

I was familiar with the methods right up to the SWOT analysis, but was stuck on how to take these strengths and weaknesses to grab opportunities and tackle threats. While it's hard for me to point a particular session, I learned a lot on being razor-focused on strategic objectives and impact-oriented goals. I also learned a lot about myself with the Hogan assessments.

There are very specific processes and things I will go back and implement. These are small adjustments that will make big impacts. I would also like to replicate some of the sessions so as to take the team with the process."


Andrew Cooper, left, speaks about his project during the Crowdsource session.

Andrew Cooper, President and Founder, LibertyWorks (Australia):

"I applied for the Think Tank MBA because it is an opportunity to get away from the office and really, really think. And it's fantastic for that, but it's the content and coaching that makes this an exceptional program. I'm leaving with an implemental plan that includes strategies and objectives that are going to make an important impact down-under. Couldn't be happier!"