Meet IE’s MBA Class of 2017


Shai Sisso

IE Business School

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: People person, hands-on entrepreneur and technological manager with passion for life, friends and new inventions.

Hometown: Tel Aviv, Israel (Home is where the story begins…)

Fun Fact about Yourself: I love cooking. Last year, while I was backpacking in South America, I got to cook in every hostel I came across. About two months later, I began to hear stories about an Israeli cook who came all the way to South America to cook for backpackers. It took me a while to understand they were speaking about me.

Undergraduate School and Major: Bachelor of Science and Master of Science (with research thesis) in Mechanical Engineering, Technion (Israel institute of technology)

Employers and Job Titles since Graduation:

  • R&D Mechanical & System engineer, R&D Team leader, Head of R&D Electro-Mechanical section (MOD Industries)
  • Mechanics & Materials Integrated Inventions (self-employed)

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I think that my biggest accomplishment took place when I was only a young team leader, making his first footsteps in the world of responsibility. It was when a competitor of ours was about to present a game-changing technological challenge that stumped my company. After weeks of brainstorming, I came up with a concept and built a prototype to help my supervisors imagine the possible. They responded inconclusively – the invention gave hope, but without even a sketch it was hard to estimate time to market, technology challenges and budget requirements.

I came to a crossroads. Would I push my supervisors to develop it or not? Alongside my time and money challenges, I had to consider that developing the project would involve products directly dismissing multiple ground rules in our decades-old solution design system. Furthermore, failure would take away time from exploring other potential solutions. Moreover, I knew that higher management could choose to develop a more conventional solution with less risk. Despite all these factors, my company always encouraged my risk-taking nature, so I decided to ask to lead the development of my project. My teams’ innovation, faith, and tight coordination ultimately made this risk work out and after three hard years I was able to successfully deliver the system.

Looking back on your experience, what advice would you give to future business school applicants?

I believe that my biggest advice would be to fully embrace the admission’s process because it is going to teach you so much about yourself. I remember how I felt when I realized how long and challenging the journey towards the admission is. I was pretty intense since it was the first time in my life I had to work so hard on describing to other people who am I and what I had accomplished so far.

Through the process, I came to understand that each part was supposed to show a different angle of you. I advise you to start with filling out the application and writing down all the general information about yourself that would help you to understand what they expect from you (I remember fixing my LinkedIn profile thanks to it). Second, choose your essays topics so they would show different sides of you – professional, personal, entrepreneurial, managerial style, etc. When writing the essays, you will know for sure who should be the right people to recommend of you – choose them to be the ones who can link the different sides of you. Finally, prepare for the interview, but not too much since I think you should present who you really are and not to be that robot with prepared answers.

As for the tests (GMAT, TOEFL, ieGAT), I think that each one of us has our own preparation methods that’s very different for every applicant. I would advise you to start studying for the tests as early as possible so you will have time to improve your grade if needed. Moreover, use common sense and try to enjoy the texts and lectures since they are usually surprisingly interesting (beside those on the insects…).

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? I was looking for a school that could give me a different kind of social and cultural experiences together with business education that has innovative strong taste. The IE IMBA full-time program combines all of these desires into one colorful year. Back in my hometown, my friends and colleagues are my biggest motivation for what I do inside and outside of my organization. Therefore, when I met with some of the IE alumni as part of my preparation, I knew immediately that this is the school I’m looking for. The stories about the people diversity, the professors in the program and of course about Area31 convinced me right away. Moreover, in my career, I have never had the opportunity to work with people from different countries with different perspectives all together, which makes this experience very exciting for me.

Tell us about your dream job or dream employer at this point in your life? At this point in my life, I decided to take a break from my ‘dream job’ where I managed a team whose purpose was to develop my organizations’ future dreams into breakthrough technological products. Leading such a team helped me believe that every dream will come true as long as you can imagine it and work hard for it. However, my job didn’t address some management concepts that I am eager to learn. They include: How do you find and recruit those crazy innovators for your company? How can you locate them between all candidates? How do you keep them crazy and creative for the benefit of the company? How do you build a 10 year development plan for the organizations’ dreams without interfering the regular projects? Answers for these kind of questions would help me to improve my organization or even to create my dreams with some partners.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? First, I hope the next year will be the best year of my life, so I don’t really want to think of what will happen after graduating yet. However, if I must answer this one, I would say that I hope to make lots of true friends during this year that will stick together after graduation through personal events, annual meetings and even for business partnership. I wish my business school peers would say that they feel I went through a great personal and professional change during the year and that they see me as someone they can count on with every problem, new idea or just for being there for them.

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