MBA students always seem to be globetrotting — experiential learning trips to San Francisco, for instance, are now almost habitual. Israel, however, has not seen quite so much action — until now.
A total of 50 mostly MBA students from SDA Bocconi recently explored entrepreneurship in the country during a trip organized by the Italian business school’s Entrepreneurship Club.
“For several years, the club has organized trips to Berlin and we thought of a change,” says Elyse Krumholz, vice president of the society at Bocconi. “Despite its small size, Israel has developed an important startupper culture and has been very successful in the fields of innovation and entrepreneurship. It seemed like an ideal destination,” she says.
Israel is renowned for a technology sector that has achieved success in the cybersecurity industry. In total, Israel’s startup cluster has racked up more than US$10 billion in venture capital investment over the past three years and has engaged in merger and acquisition activity valued at US$20 billion, according to Start-Up Nation Central, which promotes local innovation to solve global problems.
MBA students make startup ecosystem the focus
SDA Bocconi’s overseas excursion comes as MBA students place greater value on careers that are ‘entrepreneurial’, whether that equates to roles with a risky startup or within a large corporation, and as entrepreneurial MBA programs proliferate.
“We wanted to organize a trip to understand how you develop an ecosystem that encourages entrepreneurship and inspires participants,” Elyse says.
There was also time for fun, of course. The journey started with a cultural taste of Israel, a visit to the Dead Sea and then to the major tourist sites of Jerusalem.
The agenda thereafter included a visit to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and meetings with Start-Up Nation Central, The Floor, a hub for financial technology entrepreneurs in Israel, and KKL, an NGO dedicated to planting trees, boosting water sources and engaging in environmental research. The trip also encompassed a visit to Google’s offices in Tel Aviv.
“The group was very engaged and there was a great participative spirit. The various visits and meetings were indeed very inspiring,” says Tanya Mathanda, MBA student at Bocconi and head of communications for the school's Entrepreneurship Club. “It was very interesting to see how the startup culture is nurtured in Israel and the community spirit that encourages this culture.”
“We were all very impressed by what we’ve seen and the opportunity to meet and interact with these leaders was a unique opportunity,” adds Elyse. “It was also a great satisfaction to have been able to successfully organize such an intense study tour, which involved almost half of the MBA class.”