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The Israeli business sector has a lot to offer the international business world, but its culture is starkly different from the American mentality, visiting business school students are learning during a 10-day, whirlwind trip to the country.
During the visit, which began Monday, 35 students from the Walter A. Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, are meeting Israel's top financial and economic leaders including Ministry of Finance Director General Yossi Bachar, Bank Hapoalim Chief Economist Leo Leiderman, former Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Vice Premier Shimon Peres, and Iscar Chairman, Eitan Wertheimer.
The first of its kind trip from the school was the brainchild of Danel Mayer, a second year MBA student originally from Ramat Gan, who realized that his classmates were ignorant of the business prospects that Israel could offer.
"I found that a lot of my classmates don't really know what is going on Israel in terms of the business environment here and the business opportunities," he told The Jerusalem Post.
Mayer originally intended to cap participation in the trip at 20 students, but when he discovered that there was such a large interest from his classmates he opened it up to more students. Only half of the participants are American with the others hailing from around the world including India, Taiwan, Norway, Germany, China and Bulgaria.
In addition, Berkeley economics professor Steven Tadelis Ph.D., who received his B.A. and M.A. from Israeli universities, accompanied the group. It was important for future business leaders, he said, to understand the innovation coming out of Israel for future cooperation between Israel and the US.
"The kind of advantages that Israel has are in providing the initial stages of creation, whereas American companies are very good at manufacturing and distribution," he explained.
Many of the students said they were surprised at how different the business culture in Israel was compared to the US, noting that Israelis tend move on ideas more quickly and are more direct than their American counterparts.
First year MBA student, Heather Stevens, decided to participate in the trip because her father's business in hi-tech brought him to Israel on a regular basis and she wanted to see what the country had to offer.
She complimented the Israeli way of life as a catalyst for good business protocol.
"Every single person here has to serve in the military where they are forced to work in teams and depend on each other for their lives. Even in the US where business school students also have to frequently work on teams, there are still many people who are really bad at it," she said.