Thunderbird Private Equity Center

Thunderbird Private Equity Center

Thunderbird's Private Equity Center (TPEC) believes in the restorative economic power of global private equity investing. As part of the Thunderbird Walker Center for Global Entrepreneurship, TPEC strives to be the leading globally recognized thought leadership platform for students, business executives, investors and alumni to enhance understanding and advance knowledge on the key issues and trends facing private equity investing worldwide.

Notes from the Academic Director - Fall 2012

Dr. Gary Gibbons
Academic Director
Professor of Entrepreneurial Finance


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I am very pleased to announce that full-time, traditional MBA students and MS students now may have an emphasis in Entrepreneurial Finance. This coursework is offered in few business schools in the world and we are pleased to define Thunderbird as being one of the schools. This emphasis complements and aligns will the school's program and focus on Entrepreneurship.

After taking basic finance, data analysis and accounting, students interested in this emphasis would take courses GF 5421 Valuation of the Private Firm and GF 5425 Financing and Forecasting the Entrepreneurial Firm to which they would have to add 6 units of other courses in the finance discipline; 3 of these units may come from our GF 5820 Corporate Partners (which may count as a TIE course.)    


The Arizona State Retirement System has requested that our Corporate Partners students conduct a “cost vs. expected risk adjusted rate of return” analysis for the various assets classes in which the ASRS invests. This project is aimed at “pricing the diversification and return over the diversified market index in terms of actual management costs, lower liquidity and lack of marketability that occurs when managing non-public assets."

Our Corporate Partners course has been an extraordinary experience for our students and partners alike. The purpose of the course is to provide students with practical experience and knowledge in the PE/VC market place while proving an exceptional product for our partners. Please contact our office if you are interested in engaging in our Corporate Partners or Independent Study coursework.


Chile, Peru and Colombia were the destinations of nine private equity and venture capital firms represented by 11 fund managers. Accompanying them were Trade Mission Director, Jessica Tartell, Academic Director Dr. Gary Gibbons, US Department of Commerce Senior Trade Strategist, Randy Mitchell and Thunderbird Student Daniel Martin. Spending two days each in Santiago, Lima and Bogota, Fund Managers met with a total of 60 investors, of which 15 were the largest investors in the three countries, primarily representing pension funds. In each country the delegates met with Ministers of Finance, heads of local regulatory authorities (equivalent to the U.S. SEC), and various Ambassadors related to the commercial service portions of the industry. Briefings were held in each country, providing delegates with information and background on: the investment environment;, regulations the funds would have to comply with;  tax issues pertinent to fund investing; and investment constraints that apply to large national pension funds.


Olga Kugatkina, Ph.D. and Thunderbird alumna is authoring an article on LP Preferences with Respect to Manager Selection with me. Olga was recently been hired by Price Waterhouse to conduct research for CALPERS, the largest pension fund investor in the world. Olga's background is in buy- and sell-side financial due diligence assignments on behalf of international investment banks, private equity funds, and industry investors. Olga is an experienced M&A professional, certified charted accountant. Olga holds Ph.D. in International Economics.

A visiting professor in the Walker Center, Dr. Gibbons received his Ph.D. in Business Administration from Claremont Graduate School - The Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management. He holds an MS from California State University, a BS from the University of Arizona and is a Principal and Portfolio Manager with the Coleridge Group in Phoenix, Arizona.

What we do at TPEC:


TPEC specializes in the area of enterprise finance (i.e., finance as it applies to non-publicly traded firms, entrepreneurs, etc.). TPEC provides course work, training programs and employment opportunities for students wishing to pursue careers in enterprise finance.  In the past three years, the number of students per year who enrolled in this coursework grew from 0 to 90 per year.  Full time traditional MBA students and MS student my opt to have an emphasis in Entrepreneurial Finance. After taking their basic finance, data analysis and accounting, students interested in this emphasis would take courses GF 5421 Valuation of the Private Firm and GF 5425 Financing and Forecasting the Entrepreneurial Firm to which they would have to add 6 units of other courses in the finance discipline; 3 of these units may come from our GF 5820 Corporate Partners course. Additionally, our courses GF 5421 and GF 5425 will count as finance units for students desiring to take the courses but who would like them to count towards a finance emphasis or elective.  

  • Financing and Forecasting the Entrepreneurial Firm (GF 5425) (3 units) *Offered in Fall Trimester Only
  • Valuation of the Private Firm (GF 5421) (3 units) *Offered in Spring Trimester Only
  • Corporate Partners (GF 5820) (3 units)  **Course fulfills TIE II requirement
    • Fall 2012: Investment Allocation, Returns and Management Costs (Partner: Arizona State Retirement System) 
    • Spring 2012: Worldwide Private Equity (Partner: United States Department of Commerce)  
    • Fall 2011: Investment Policy for Non-Public Assets (Partner: Arizona State Retirement System)
    • Spring 2011: Restructuring Resort Property Financing (Partner: Large Scottsdale-based resort ownership)
    • Spring 2010: Business Plan Development and Management Plan (Partner: University of Arizona, College of Agriculture)
  • Topics in Global Business: Independent Studies (GF 5903) (3 units)
    • In-depth analysis of PE/VC activity in Arizona.  
    • The status of PE/VC investing in Chile, Peru and Colombia.
    • PE exit strategies in Vietnam.

Student Private Equity Venture Capital Club

Through its programs, presentations and conferences, TPEC supports a student private equity club. The club is student-run and averages about 25 student members per year.


TPEC holds conferences annually in India, Southeast Asia and the United States. 

We currently present practice-oriented conferences on a regular basis. These conferences are topically organized to cover contemporary issues in private enterprise finance. The format involves local and topical experts and panel discussions. Information, including agendas, speakers and sponsors from previous Conferences is available under the events tab.

Jobs and Internships

A key part of TPEC’s mission is to get both jobs and internships for students. Over the past year, the organization has reached out to participants in the private equity, valuation, international venture and venture capital spaces to solicit both internships and jobs. We have now had students accepted as employees or interns at a number of outstanding firms. Please contact our office at +1 602-978-7501 if you are interested in utilizing interns from our program or if you are interested in hiring students in our program.

The Journal of Private Equity

The editorship of the Journal of Private Equity (JPE) is housed at Thunderbird. Dr. Gary Gibbons is on the advisory editorial board.

Articles and Research

Gibbons, G. and H.M. Stone, “PE Managers as Registered Investment Advisors”, The Journal of Private Equity, Volume 15, #1. 2011 (Abstract; April 1, 2012)

Articles In Progress:

Dr. Gibbons, Olga Kugatkina, Ph.D. (WCGE Post-Doctoral Fellow) and Alex Jones (Vice President, Preqin) are authoring an article on LP Preferences with Respect to Manager Selection. (Targeted to be completed in September 2012.)

Books In Progress:

Dr. Gary Gibbons, Dr. Robert Hisrich and Carlos Silva are authoring a book titled, “Entrepreneurial Finance: Finance for Entrepreneurs with a Global Vision.” (Targeted for publication in 2013.)

Research In Progress:

Dr. Gibbons is conducting research on private firm value in cooperation with Dinan & Company. The research objective is to construct an index of private firm sector values that can be assembled into a descriptive index of private firm value. The desired result would be to produce an index similar to the Case/Schiller index of real estate values but for non-public firms. Dinan & Company is the largest independent buy side advisor in North America in the PE market. This project is in the early stages.

Support TPEC

It is because of generous contributions from our supporters that we are able to continue to offer superior programs and services to industry professionals, alumni and students. We invite you to become more involved with TPEC by attending our upcoming forums, our 2013 symposium and by providing your ideas and insights for future programs, publications, and initiatives.



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