Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Program brings together Palestinian executives, top Israeli business minds


This semester, Tel Aviv University inaugurated a pioneering business development program aimed at Palestinian executives, designed jointly by LAHAV Executive Education, and Kellogg-Recanati Executive MBA program at TAU’s Recanati Business School with USAID. Addressing the unique challenges facing Palestinian high-tech companies, the 12-day course gave participants the tools to effectively manage their business, court foreign funding and break into international markets.

Mustafa Deeb, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector lead at USAID’s Compete Project and a graduate of the Kellogg-Recanati EMBA program, says that this innovative course was met with overwhelming enthusiasm. “For just over 30 slots, we received more than 90 applications—a clear indication of the high demand for this type of programming,” he adds.

Top academics from Israel and the United States and leaders in the fields of high-tech and venture capitalism shared their expertise on topics including software entrepreneurship, international marketing and business management, technology markets, negotiation strategy and more.

The organizers believe that this unique initiative can bring a much-needed boost to the Palestinian economy. “The Palestinian private sector has many companies that serve their local market, but only a few in the regional or international markets. Since Palestinian companies are typically either family-owned or led by engineers, their executives need to develop proper business skills to penetrate the complicated international marketplace,” says Deeb.

In selecting a host for the project, USAID wanted a university program that not only offers outstanding academics but also brings international expertise and top managers from technology-driven companies to share their knowledge and international experience with the participants. Having graduated more than 50 Palestinian Executive MBA students over the last 17 years and boasting a top world ranking, the Kellogg-Recanati program was a natural fit. The additional involvement and expertise of LAHAV, the executive education unit at the Faculty of Management, made TAU the ideal home for such an ambitious project.

Combining academic theory and on-the-ground experience, LAHAV has 45 years of experience building executive education programs to suit a variety of sectors and audiences around the world, says LAHAV’s CEO Udi Aharoni. But they have never before had the opportunity to work with their neighbors.

“At the end of the day, every manager understands similar concepts and vocabulary of business, putting aside cultural, religious or political issues,” Aharoni says. “From our point of view, this is the first stone in a long bridge to business collaboration.”  

Lecturers, guest speakers and participants continue to be in touch outside of class, he says proudly, which contributes toward the program’s goal of facilitating a network of Palestinian business leaders with ties to the Israeli market.

Dr. Itay Kama of TAU’s Faculty of Management, who was one of the lecturers during this session, calls this one of the most important programs he has been involved with. A teacher of financial accounting who believes that the language of numbers transcends boundaries, he thinks this program has similarly allowed Israelis and Palestinians to engage in a common dialogue. “If we are going to have a better future, based on peace and understanding, then we must learn to communicate,” he says.

Participants have been inspired by this unique experience and are enthusiastically recommending their colleagues for future sessions. “The topics we addressed and our guest speakers were extraordinarily relevant to their businesses and the issues that they encounter on a day-to-day basis,” notes Denis Gallagher, director of USAID’s Compete project.

On the heels of such success, the organizers are hoping to design courses for Palestinians dedicated to professionals in a variety of fields, including commercial agriculture and tourism.


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