Fifty Tel Aviv University M.B.A. Students Head to Northwestern University for Summer Business Credit Friday, August 24, 2007
Joint degree provides know-how for building global relationships
When it comes to doing business in any international market, it is ultimately the relationships between potential partners that will make or break a deal. In August, fifty Israeli students had the chance to hone their relationship skills far from home.
As part of Tel Aviv University’s Kellogg-Recanati (KR) Executive M.B.A. degree program, administered jointly by Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and Tel Aviv University’s Recanati Graduate School of Business Administration, the Israeli students spent two weeks in Chicago this summer to complete an important stage of their studies. The students mingled with M.B.A. students from the program’s sister schools based in Hong Kong, Germany and the U.S. For 24 hours a day, more than 150 business students practiced their teamwork and negotiation skills under the guidance of Northwestern professors, who taught courses on negotiation strategy, crisis management, marketing and strategic alliances.
Tel Aviv University’s Kellogg-Recanati (KR) Executive M.B.A. coordinator Orit Mendelson has helped hundreds of Israeli business students from powerful companies such as Bank Leumi and Amdocs forge international alliances with M.B.A. students from Europe, the Far East and America. “We are always working on teaching our students about the cultural differences between countries and how to bridge the gaps,” said Mendelson. “Our program helps our Israeli students not only to negotiate in the American sense of the word, but it also lets them interact with people from the Far East. It’s one thing when people tell you about the Chinese approach to business. It’s another when you are studying in the same class with them and live it.”
She continues, “In effect, our students get to network across the globe within companies and between industries. Studying with other business executives in the same degree program, with the same curriculum, gives these people a common bond and one which they will likely use in business for the rest of their lives.”
“Like everything else in management, this program is mainly about people,” says Professor Israel Zang, academic director of the program in Israel, who joined the students in Chicago. “It’s about the wonderful students that we have, and it’s about the hundreds of students studying in our sister programs and with whom we constantly interact.”
The two-year-long part-time course, which includes the vital experience abroad, also helps Israelis and their Palestinian counterparts see eye-to-eye. “Only when we are away from home and other people analyze us, do our Palestinian and Israeli students realize how very similar they are,” says Mendelson. “In Israel, we don’t want to be seen as ‘the suckers’ in business. And both Israelis and Palestinians are always looking to figure out how to get the biggest slice of the pie when negotiating. Instead, through the degree, we teach them how to expand the size of the entire pie!”
As part of the framework of the program and to demonstrate Tel Aviv University’s commitment to education despite complicated geopolitical borders, every year the Tel Aviv University/NorthwesternUniversity program offers anywhere from two to four scholarships for Palestinian M.B.A. students. And this fall, in October, the Tel Aviv University campus will be hosting 18 business students from Hong Kong and 15 from the U.S. as they participate in a special module on business in the high-tech sector, an Israeli speciality.
The ambassador for the October course will be M.B.A. student Paul Knegten, the business development director for the Israeli Internet company Dapper.net. “When we get foreign visitors to our program from around the world, they come specifically for the entrepreneurial spirit, which is unique to Israel,” says Knegten.
Tel Aviv University Faculty of Management dean Simon Benninga adds, “This particular program is the crown jewel of our business school. We dreamed up this idea with Northwestern University’s dean and built the concept from scratch together. Our students say that there is nothing like it, because studying in different locations will help them build a global professional network that will help them grow all stages of their careers.”