Sy Syms Students Learn about Israeli Business Environment from Those Who Know It Best
Sy Syms School of Business students in Daniel Laufer’s Israeli Business Environment course recently received an update on the state of the Israeli economy from its economic minister to North America.
The minister, Yair Shiran, spoke about topics that included foreign investments in Israel, international trade, the recent privatization of companies like El-Al and Bezeq and reforms aimed at enhancing competition. Incorporating figures and projections from Israel’s economic mission to New York in his lecture, Shiran offered insight into the country’s struggles to engage Israeli Arabs and ultra-Orthodox men in the workforce. He also answered frank questions from students about a host of challenges facing the Israeli economy.
“Today in Israel we are much more dependent on Wall Street than political stability in the Middle East,” Shiran said. “For better or worse, we’ve learned to live in a culture of conflict. As a small country highly dependent on international trade, however, crises in the United States market affect us more.”
Shiran’s remarks highlighted larger topics addressed by the course—Israeli business culture, investment incentives and marketing in Israel, among others—which Laufer, associate professor of marketing at Sy Syms, suggests have particular significance to YU students—many of whom go on to work with Israel-based companies or even in them. “The overwhelming majority of our students spend their first year in Israel,” Laufer said. “A lot of them know Hebrew, a lot of them have strong ties to Israel and a lot of them even move there. A course about the Israeli business environment can be hugely beneficial to our students because it prepares them for integration into Israeli society and the workforce.”
From left, Prof. Daniel Laufer, Yair Shiran and Dean Michael Ginzberg
Benjamin Muller, an international business and marketing major pursuing a minor in political science, has found that speakers like Shiran help him anchor what he learns in the classroom. “Guest speakers enable us to delve beyond the academic content and observe how real people function on a day-to-day basis in Israel,” he said.
Mark Rocklin, an international business major who hopes to make aliyah and explore business opportunities in Israel, agreed. “Something the minister pointed out himself is that inflation and dependency on international trade are probably bigger factors in the Israeli economy than regional conflict,” said Rocklin. “Studying these things and hearing from people who are out there and involved in it like Minister Shiran give me a heads-up in terms of what to expect in the Israeli business world.”
The minister is not the only high-profile speaker students will hear from this semester. According to Laufer, exposure to professionals in both the public and private sector is integral to the course’s structure. “I wanted to craft a class that would tap into real expertise in both arenas. For instance, part of our course relates to regional trade between Israel and its neighbors, and Minister Shiran actually helped negotiate an agreement between Israel and Egypt,” said Laufer.
“Students learn so much more when we are able to connect the classroom to the real world,” said Dr. Michael Ginzberg, dean of Sy Syms. “We’re very fortunate to be in New York and to have access to great outside speakers who bring very real, very relevant experience to the class.”