DBI Doing Business In Israel

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Short-Term Study Abroad: Recanati Business School, Tel Aviv University

What I was seeking…

A factor that enticed me to pursue the DBI program was that the program had a strong emphasis on both entrepreneurship and innovation.  Israel is currently ranked 1st in the world for innovative capacity and 2nd in the world for entrepreneurship.  These high rankings make Israel highly regarded across the globe for its thriving entrepreneurial spirit, which enables the country to swiftly transform start-ups into profitable and competitive companies. Right behind Silicon Valley, Israel has the highest concentration of high-tech companies in the world.  In addition to having a positive academic experience, I wanted to travel to a country that was rich in culture and tradition.With these issues in mind, I am so fortunate that I had the chance to participate in this unique study-abroad program.

Academic Days - Days 1-5, Day 8

The program was 9 days in total. Days 1-5 and Day 8 were considered "academic days" Days 6-7 (the weekend we were in Tel-Aviv), were days to rest, days to travel in small groups, days to enjoy the beaches, days to shop, days to tour, etc. There were no scheduled activities on Days 6-7. Day 9 was spent traveling to and touring Jerusalem.

All 24 MBA participants in this program stayed at a hotel called the Artplus, in the heart of Tel Aviv. Students had the choice to occupy a room independently, or share a room with a classmate. There were 3 participants from Booth. The rest of the individuals were MBA students from the University of Michigan, Duke University, and the University of Texas. We also had individuals in our program who studied in Sri Lanka, Australia, Peru, and Argentina. The hotel had a very hip and modern vibe, and was about a minute walk away from the Mediterranean Sea. On these academic days, (days slotted for classroom sessions/company visits/other tours) our group would leave the hotel at 8:30am. A chartered coach bus provided us with transportation during the entire program. Breakfast was provided each morning at the hotel. Lunches were provided during academic days as well. Before academic days began, it was very common for individuals in our group to go for morning runs along the sea, or use outdoor workout facilities on the beach.

All the classroom sessions were pre-determined prior to our arrival. There was no language barrier, as the classroom sessions were taught in English. There was a great balance between learning from professors at the Recanati School of Business, and visiting different companies in the Tel Aviv area. The lectures in the beginning of the program were geared toward giving students a prospective on Israeli life and culture, and how those aspects differed compared to those in the US. There were also lectures on the history of Israel, dating back to the Zionist Movement. By Days 2-3, the topics of the lectures began to focus on entrepreneurship and innovation. Overall, the classroom sessions were extremely interesting, as we had the opportunity to hear from 12 different Tel Aviv University professors. Class participation was encouraged, but not mandatory and not graded. Overall, the dynamic of the classroom was very comparable to that of a University of Chicago MBA classroom. On average we would have 2-3 90 minutes lectures, and 1-2 company visits per academic day. On particular academic days, our out of classroom experiences were not limited to company visits. During the program we also had the opportunity to visit a Kibbutz, tour Bnei-Brak – an orthodox community just east of Tel Aviv, and spend time at the Diaspora Museum (an Israeli museum in Tel Aviv). Usually, our academic day would end around 4-5pm. At that time, students would have a few hours of free time before our entire group met up for dinner. Some nights, we would have planned dinner itinerary that was a part of the program, while other nights, students were free to create their own dinner plans. During scheduled dinners, we had the opportunity on various occasions to meet other MBA students who were in Tel Aviv, but not associated with our program. We also interacted with current Israeli MBA students who pursued their education at Recanati in Tel Aviv.

In terms of academic preparation, there were no major tasks to complete prior to the program. About one month prior to the program, all prospective students were mailed program guidelines, hotel information, and a day-by-day itinerary. Prior to arriving, we were given the assignment to read one book, "Start-Up Nation" which highlighted Israel's strong entrepreneurial and tech presence. There were two assignments that had to be completed during the program - one 3-page paper, which was due in the middle of the program, and one 6-page paper, which was due 2 weeks after the program was completed. These two assignments were based on the lectures we attended, and on one case study that was distributed to us during the program. We did not discuss the case study in class.

Lecture Topics/Company Visits

The following is a list of the 12 lecture topics from the DBI program

Israel at a Glance
Cross Cultural Training on Israeli Culture
Crossing Cultural Boundaries
Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Cleantech in Israel
The Middle East – Problems and Possible Solutions
The Crowdsourcing Platform:  Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Reciprocity
Social Entrepreneurship in Israel
The Israel Defense Sector
Spreading Innovation in the Social Age
New Media Entrepreneurship The Israeli VC Industry
The following is a list of the 8 Start-up's we visited while in Tel-Aviv
eBay The Gift Project, giftsproject.com
All MFaves, www.allmyfaves.com
Eatwith, www.eatwith.com/ (this was actually a company visit in which we had dinner with the
entrepreneurs…very cool set-up
Enzymotec, www.enzymotec.com
Babcom, www.babcomcenters.com
Green IQ, www.greeniq-systems.com
Tokenads, www.tokenads.com
Rachip, www.rachip.com

Jerusalem - Day 9

The Jerusalem visit on Day 9 was the highlight for many individuals in our program. We had the opportunity to visit the majority of the holy sites. On this day, many students also visited the Dead Sea, toured Masada, and found locations in the desert to ride camels.

Nightlife

The weekend in Israel is on Friday and Saturday, so as expected, on Thursday and Friday nights, a large number of the pubs, bars, and clubs were open until the sun came up the following day. This dynamic though does not necessarily change on weekday evenings. Every night out felt like a weekend evening; clubs on the beach give Tel Aviv a very similar nightlife feel compared to Miami. From a spending standpoint, the cost of nightlife was comparable to that in Chicago. Most natives spoke English, and students definitely felt extremely safe while enjoying the nightlife of Tel Aviv.

Final Words

I work full-time, so as this program was 9 days and included Memorial Day weekend, I only had to miss 6 days of work. I strongly recommend this program to any Booth student seeking to pursue a short-term study abroad experience. As a participant, you will have the opportunity to become immersed in local student culture, and make numerous professional contacts. Interacting with real-world entrepreneurs on a daily basis is an invaluable experience as well. This program in my opinion provided an unbelievable balance of education, culture, and social experiences. The memories and networks created from this trip will last a lifetime.

George Kalant | Evening MBA Program Student

Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem

The Classroom at Recanati, Tel Aviv University

Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

A view of Jaffa, a short walk from our hotel

Our hotel, Tel Aviv, on Ben Yehuda Street

3 Boothies- Lauren Michalak, George Kalant, Liz Fischer

Start-Up visit in Tel Aviv

Celebrating Maccabi Tel Aviv- 2014 Euro-league Basketball Champions

Outside Recanati, Tel Aviv University

Enjoying Tel Aviv

Enjoying Tel Aviv

Western Wall, Jerusalem

Floating in the Dead Sea

Visiting a Kibbutz

Orthodox children studying in Bnei-Brak

In the desert in Southern Israel

Notes in the Western Wall

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