2017 MBAs To Watch: Michael Dan Vardi, London Business School

Michael Dan Vardi

London Business School

“Just one word: Caring. I care for what I do and the people around me.”

Age: 31

Hometown: Tel Aviv, Israel / Sydney, Australia

Fun fact about yourself: Danced ballet before LBS.

Undergraduate School and Degree: (Philosophy and Economics from Tel Aviv University

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Senior Associate at the Boston Consulting Group

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? VALERANN, London

I founded a start-up named VALERANN that is dedicated to making our roads ‘smart’ and enabling them to facilitate emerging transportation technologies

Where will you be working after graduation? I will continue working at VALERANN, my start-up. We raised nearly $1M in seed funding over the summer and are working towards our first pilots in London and Israel.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: My main focus in leadership has been on health, fitness and sports. In first year, I started and ran open functional fitness sessions twice a week for anyone in the LBS community. This year, I am president of the LBS Rugby Club.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Being elected president of the LBS Rugby Club. The club is perhaps the oldest and most active club on campus and is about much more than just sport for many people at LBS. I am proud that my friends and club-alumni trusted me enough to let me lead it.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Founding VALERANN and raising our seed-round. Founding a company is nerve-wracking. Dedicating myself to this high-risk path has been tough but very rewarding. I feel very fortunate to have witnessed VALERANN develop from an idea to a 10 person company with a product that I believe in and a project pipeline.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Kamalini Ramdas – Kamilini’s focus in her research and her teaching is entrepreneurship. While I have not taken any of her classes, she is always willing to help founders through their many challenges, whether as a thought-partner or through her network.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Paths to Power with Gabe Adams. The course focuses on the sources of ‘power’ that leaders/managers have. It also discusses the many pitfalls you may encounter that could result in losing power. While the sources of power are relatively intuitive, it was surprising to learn how easy I could slip into the pitfalls, especially when stress levels are high.

Why did you choose this business school? I wanted a leading business school in a global business centre, which would provide easy access to the business community. As I wanted to be in Europe, LBS was the obvious choice.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? People is an obvious answer. I felt this especially when working collaboratively towards common goals. It is a pleasure to commit to things when the people around you are also 100% committed. For me, this is exemplified by the Rugby Club committee (WCE) and my start-up co-founder.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? The amount of events and opportunities that are around you, every day.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Find what you love and commit to it. Time is too short to be half-hearted about things.

What is the biggest myth about your school? That it is completely consulting/finance focused. This used to be true. Today, the school is working more towards tech and entrepreneurship. There is still a way to go, but LBS is proactively addressing this issue.

What was your biggest regret in business school? No regrets. I had to make choices, and I had to make trade-offs. Founding the start-up especially enforced tough trade-offs: I socialised less, went on less treks, and did not maximise the academic opportunities available. However, I feel I managed to focus my attention on what mattered to me most.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Terrance Steinberg – Terrance comes from a non-profit background. He decided to come to business school to gain experience and understanding of for-profit organisations, so that he could apply them back to non-profits in the future. His long term approach to career building and his altruistic goals are the reason I admire him.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized that, due to time constraints of my day-to-day work, I was not giving enough time to reflection and to making intentional choices about my career trajectory.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…a Consultant/Project Leader at BCG.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? Give more support to entrepreneurs. Specifically, (1) create more curriculum flexibility to allow for the time-constraints of starting a business; (2) allocate a specific area where start-up founders can work amongst others with similar challenges; and (3) provide incentives to faculty to be more involved and supportive of LBS start-ups.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I want to found and grow organisations that impact the world. VALERANN will be the first.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My family and my partner (Amy). I have been very fortunate. My family gave me many opportunities to learn, and grow. Amy supports me throughout the highs and lows of the start-up life.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As someone who cared about what they do and about the people around them.

Favorite book: The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Favorite movie or television show: Big Fish

Favorite musical performer: Jurassic Five

Favorite vacation spot: Places I have not been to yet.

Hobbies? Rugby, crossfit, hiking

What made Michael Dan such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“Michael’s profile at the time of application was very strong. But it was clear upon meeting him that he was going to be a great fit for London Business School. He’s a global, creative, community minded high achiever who has contributed a lot to the community.”

David Simpson
Admissions Director
London Business School

 

DON’T MISS: MBAS TO WATCH: THE STORIES OF 100 EXTRAORDINARY GRADUATES FROM THE CLASS OF 2017