Each spring, Professor Mark Cohen helps students get hands-on business experience in Israel as they consult for companies on a variety of objectives. While geographically tiny, the country has a huge concentration of both financial and intellectual capital, and businesses from small startups to huge multinational corporations have offices in Israel. In addition to touring company offices, students also visited major historical sites during their trip. Below, three MBAs explain the highlights of their travels, which took place a few weeks ago.
Alisha Edichandy (MBA’21)
One of the best decisions that I’ve made here at Owen is signing up for the Israel trip. I remember thinking that the consulting project alone would be an amazing opportunity for me to get some hands-on international consulting experience that would look great on my resume. We got to meet the companies whose projects we were working on in order to have some face-to-face time and clarify expectations for our deliverables. Additionally, the trip gave us the opportunity to explore one of the most innovative countries in the world and talk to firms that are at the forefront of technological innovation.
The “work” part of the trip was surprisingly a very small part of our excursion. Professor Cohen did an incredible job organizing a tour that really captured the beauty, history, and traditions of Israel. We had the opportunity to explore historical religious sights, learn about Israel’s humble beginnings, and even participate in a Shabbat dinner with an Israeli family in their home. Our tour guide Ronen gave us an authentic and unforgettable immersion into Israeli culture that really bonded us as a group. Some of my favorite moments include The Western Wall, a cooking class taught by an Israeli celebrity chef, and the Sea of Galilee.
A few of us arrived early and explored Jordan, which was also an unbelievable experience. We got to tour Petra and camp out in the desert of Wadi Rum. Excursions in the desert included camel-riding, jeep touring and a plethora of beautiful scenic views that not even Instagram could do justice.
Every day of our trip had us thinking that things could not get any better and sure enough…they did. Overall, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I won’t ever forget. —Alisha Edichandy
Lucas Hagerty (MBA’21)
Sociologist and philosopher Aubrey Drake Graham once said, “No new friends.” But on this trip, adhering to that adage was simply impossible, and that is what made our spring break trip to Israel so memorable for me. As a local Nashvillian, I likely haven’t immersed myself in Owen culture as much as transplants to the city. I was a bit set in my Nashville ways, with my East Nashville bars and East Nashville friends. Spending a week traveling with 34 classmates necessarily meant forging deeper relationships and developing entirely new friendships.
Just like sixth grade, it all went down on the bus. With the hours of travel time between cities, friends new and old learned too much (or just enough) about one another. While our first bus ride from Tel Aviv to Caesarea had a cordial buzz as people chatted casually with acquaintances, the final ride from Masada to the Tel Aviv airport had a deafening din of laughter, teasing, and reminiscing about the prior evening as if it had happened years ago. Whether you were front, middle, or back bus you got to know your classmates as they WhatsApp’ed for bathroom stops, joked with the tour guide, or pleaded for content opportunities.
Even back on US soil, I continue to strengthen friendships through the ongoing consulting work. After meeting our client in Tel Aviv and sharing both pricing strategies and red wine, our group of four student consultants are working through Mod 4 on an invigoratingly challenging business problem. From not knowing my three teammates, to sharing bus trips and ocean dips, to ongoing brainstorming sessions, the Israel programming still provides a vehicle for deepening friendships.
Despite what Aubrey Drake Graham suggested, I will remember this Israel trip through 34 wonderful new friends. —Lucas Hagerty
Joshua Eniola (MBA’21)
Like most students spending their spring break in Israel, I was super charged up to meet the company my team had started consulting for. It was interesting meeting the CEO and CMO of BlazePod, a fitness technology company, to better understand their business and define how we can better add value to them. Beyond that, we met with other companies that really showed the startup mindset in Israel and the brilliant advancements in technology. Meeting one of Israel’s most prominent venture capitalists helped show how the financial ecosystem has helped to fund innovation.
The most remarkable single visit for me was to the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation. I was inspired by the foresight of the founding father of Modern Israel David Ben-Gurion, his protégé Shimon Peres, and what they successfully built. We also saw major Israeli technology innovations that have disrupted the world. It was great visiting Kibbutz Netafim, a collective farming community that converted desert lands to arable farms using their innovative drip agriculture. We had different scholarly debates on their communal living and whether it was traditional communism or a hybrid form of capitalism.
We visited amazing historic sites such as Caesarea, Capernaum, Nazareth, Jerusalem, Masada, and the Dead Sea. It was a spiritual experience praying by the Western Wall in Jerusalem and experiencing ancient Biblical sites life. My poor fitness shape was exposed when climbing the ancient fortress of Masada, but it was worth the struggle getting up. The Masada Hill is an amazing ancient Jewish civilization preserved after its fall in 73 A.D. to Rome. Visiting the Holocaust Museum was a very sober experience and made me reflect on how wicked men can thrive when good men fail to speak up and act. Special thanks to Professor Mark Cohen for making this trip a memorable one and going out of his way to ensure we were all fine. We also had an amazing guide Ronen, and I am sure the entire team will agree he was simply the best. —Joshua Eniola