The United Kingdom’s new prime minister, Rishi Sunak, credits his experience studying business in California’s Silicon Valley with helping to expand his idea of what is possible.
Sunak, who on October 24 became the U.K.’s youngest prime minister in modern history and its first of Indian descent, earned his MBA at the Stanford Graduate School of Business in 2006.
“At Stanford, you’re in the heart of an ecosystem and a culture that is unlike anything else I’ve seen in the world,” Sunak, 42, told Morning Brew in June. “Everyone is interested in changing the world, and they start with the biggest of dreams and the ecosystem around [Silicon Valley] is supportive of trying to help people realize those ambitions.”
Sunak has also said studying in America “broadened my mindset out considerably.”
Congratulations to @RishiSunak, the 1st #Fulbright alumnus named Prime Minister of the UK. PM Sunak received a 2005 Fulbright Foreign Student award from @USUKFulbright to support his MBA in the U.S. at @Stanford – an internat’l exchange which he has said “changed my life.” pic.twitter.com/SASxUS8AD3
— The Fulbright Program (@FulbrightPrgrm) October 25, 2022
Sunak attended Stanford through the Fulbright Program, the U.S. government’s flagship international academic exchange. The Fulbright Program was created in the aftermath of World War II, with the goal of preventing future conflicts by providing opportunities for exchange and connection between U.S. citizens and people from other countries.
Since its inception over 75 years ago, the Fulbright Program has provided over 400,000 U.S. students, scholars, teachers, artists and professionals — and foreign counterparts — the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research abroad. People from more than 160 countries have participated in the program.
Sunak joins 40 other Fulbright participants who have gone on to serve as heads of state or government.
Congratulations to Rishi Sunak on becoming Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Together, I look forward to enhancing our cooperation on issues critical to global security and prosperity, including continuing our strong support for Ukraine.
— President Biden (@POTUS) October 25, 2022
Prior to studying in the United States, Sunak worked in finance and applied to Stanford with an eye toward broadening his horizons to public service, Derrick Bolton, of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, told the Mercury News.
At Stanford, Sunak met his future wife, Akshata Murty, and the couple stayed in California for a number of years after graduation. After returning to the U.K., Sunak continued his finance career before being elected a member of Parliament in 2015. “Being out there in the U.S. changed my life,” Sunak said in 2021.
As chancellor of the exchequer, the U.K.’s finance minister, Sunak oversaw development of the country’s COVID-19 relief plan for helping communities, businesses and unemployed workers weather the pandemic.
International students interested in studying in the U.S. often look for guidance from the U.S. Department of State’s EducationUSA network of advising centers in more than 175 countries and territories.