Mark Finkel has been deeply involved in early stage entrepreneurial enterprises for the past 25 years. Over that time, Mark has worked as an executive or active board member of numerous high-growth technology companies on the East Coast, in Silicon Valley, and in Israel.  Mark has had significant international operational experience, having set up distribution channels and operations in both Europe and Asia.  Mark was also the founder and Chairman of RightAnswers, an enterprise software company, which was sold to Upland Software in 2017.

Many of the companies he has been involved with have had successful exits. He has taken four companies public as Chief Financial Officer and many other companies have had M&A exits. Most recently, Mark served at the Board level for JUMP Bikes, which was bought by Uber in May 2018.

Mark has been involved in numerous social entrepreneurship ventures as well. As Chairman of the Special Kids Fund, he has pioneered the concept of a charity gift card.  He has also been involved in economic development work overseas.

Mark’s academic interests revolve around helping students understand and apply the skills and concepts underlying successful entrepreneurship.  These include understanding the dynamics of nascent markets, as well as those of disruptive entrants into existing markets.  Of particular interest to Mark are the management skills needed to scale the entrepreneurial venture through its growth phases. Also important to Mark is understanding the characteristics of the products or services offered by the early stage enterprise that are more likely to lead to success.

Mark serves on the Board of Directors or Advisory Board of a number of companies and charities. Mark holds a BA (Oberlin College), an MBA (NYU) and a JD (University of California, Davis – Managing Editor of the Law Review).


1. What profession did you think you would hold when you were a student?

I majored in Government as an undergraduate and thought I wanted to go into public service.   I did work in the public sector when I first got out of school but, in the end, switched to the private sector.

2. How has your past work experience prepared you for your current position?

I have spent over twenty-five years in numerous entrepreneurial ventures in Silicon Valley, in Israel and in the NYC area.  I have set up distribution and operations in both Asia and Europe.  Additionally, I have help build a number of social entrepreneurship ventures, so have learned a bit about how entrepreneurship applies in the non-profit sector.  I still sit on board of for-profit and non-profit organizations, which helps me keep up with the ever-changing entrepreneurial world.  Daily, in class, I am able to draw on so much of what I have had the privilege to be exposed to.  (Having said that, I do try to complement that real-world knowledge with academic and empirical information, which is valuable, as well.)

3. What are some of your goals for the Sy Syms School of Business Executive MBA program and what progress have you made?

The Sy Syms Executive MBA Program is an extraordinary program, offering a small learning environment, led by our most senior faculty.   We have been able to attract first-rate students from a diverse business and professional background.  I would hope we can build on this base to grow the number of students over the next few years.  Additionally, we have a strong group of alumni and I would like to grow the programming for that group and be able to draw on the experience of the alumni to help our current students.

4. What aspect of your job with YU do you most enjoy?

The students and my colleagues.  Each day, I feel challenged by the students and enjoy my day-to-day interactions with them.  The faculty at Sy Syms are first-rate.   They are smart, driven, and dedicated, and have been terrifically welcoming of me.

5. What would your colleagues be surprised to learn about you?

I have tried to grow in my life by challenging myself to get outside my comfort zone.  So, among other activities, I have spent time working on an Indian Reservation in Utah and have spent time doing economic development work in places like Afghanistan.  That might surprise them.  I don’t think it would surprise them that I am a die-hard Yankee fan and season ticket holder, since I talk about the Yankees much of the time.


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