2017 MBAs To Watch: Rei Goffer, MIT (Sloan)

Rei Goffer

MIT Sloan School of Management and Harvard Kennedy School

Age: 31

I’m an entrepreneur by nature, passionate to find cool solutions for meaningful problems.”

Hometown: Tel Aviv, Israel

Fun fact about yourself:  Before coming to Sloan I used to work as a cook in a high cuisine Asian restaurant in Tel Aviv.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Ben-Gurion University, BA in Economics.

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? I served for 10 years in the Israeli Air Force and left the service right before coming to school.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? I worked on my company ClimaCell, and traveled to India to do our initial market research and start business partnerships there.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will continue to work on ClimaCell. We are currently a team of eight (my two co-founders and I, and five full time employees) and hopefully we’re just getting started.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I was part of the Israel Club at Sloan, and co-chaired the Israeli Caucus the Kennedy School.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? At the end of the first year of Sloan, we took 120 Sloanies on a eight-day trek in Israel. I was one of the leading organizers, and this was an extraordinary experience. Apart from just having tons of fun, I got to see my country through the eyes of my classmates, who come from all around the world. It made gave me fresh perspectives about things I thought I knew well. This was definitely one of the highlights of business school, and worth every bit of hard work invested in it.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? It was finding my two amazing co-founders and building ClimaCell together over the past 18 months. During that time we’ve raised a $1.4M seed round, built an incredible team of developers, and are now about to launch the beta version for the most advanced weather forecasting system in the world.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor is Roberto Rigobon. He brings incredible passion and spirit to the classroom, and is both a revolutionary economist and a truly inspiring person. I admire his ability to be both extremely funny and extremely serious at the same time.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? My favorite class was Entrepreneurial Strategy with Professor Scott Stern. It gave me a great framework to think about competitive advantages as a startup, which I still use today. In addition, the case studies were super relevant, and enabled me to get into the shoes of the founders at the most critical junctions.

Why did you choose this business school? I think that MIT is one the best schools in the world for tech entrepreneurs. You get an amazing ecosystem to start a business, with great classes, and access to the most amazing technologies, faculty, and students in the world. Add to that the incredible community and the unique atmosphere of Sloan, and there’s really no question.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The people. I met some of the most amazing people I know, from all over the world. Even though you spend most of the two years in Cambridge, you feel like you’ve traveled through half the globe, because your friends come from so many different places and cultures. Can’t think of any other experience that resembles that.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? How friendly everyone is, and how important it is to get to really know the people around you. There are such amazing opportunities, stories and connections waiting for you, just need to reach out.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program?

Focus. Spend a lot of time thinking thoroughly about what is it that you want to do after school, and make sure you’re being honest with yourself. There are a LOT of options, and from my experience if you really want to pursue one of them you should give it everything you’ve got. It’s hard enough to succeed when you’re putting 100%, it’s impossible if you’re putting anything less.

What is the biggest myth about your school? MIT has a reputation for being an ultra quantitative school. While that’s not entirely wrong (it’s actually true), you can avoid dealing with heavy math if you’re not in the mood for that at Sloan.

What was your biggest regret in business school? There are so many people I wish I had discovered earlier.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? That’s easy. My partner, Itai Zlotnik. Itai and I go almost 16 years back – we’ve known each other since 10th grade, and we were lucky enough to end up in the same class at MIT and start ClimaCell together. Itai is one of the toughest and most devoted people I’ve ever known, and the best teammate one can ask for.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I first heard about a friend from the Air Force who started MIT after finishing his service. This seemed like the ultimate starting point for almost any career, and a great way to transition from a long service in the military to the private sector. It indeed was.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…a Chef. Cooking has always been a huge part of my life, and in some point I definitely might go back to doing it professionally.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would give everyone much bigger scholarships, so they wouldn’t feel so stressed about their debt, and take more risks in their post graduation career choices. Oh, and I would cancel the 8:30am classes.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Go back to Israel and build a big company there.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My wife Efi.  Everything.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As their Israeli friend who doesn’t necessarily likes to wear suites…

Favorite book: Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

Favorite movie or television show: The Wire.

Favorite musical performer: Stevie Wonder

Favorite vacation spot: The beach of Sinai, Egypt.

Hobbies? Playing piano, Cooking, Reading, and practicing Yoga.

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

“Rei has been a consistent contributor to his MIT Sloan classmates both in and out of the classroom, despite his busy life as a dual degree student, Legatum fellow, and Chief Strategy Officer for a successful startup. When he was not excelling in his classes at  MIT Sloan and the Harvard Kennedy School, Rei could be found developing and leading classmates on an Israeli trek  that is now an annual highlight,  or working across academic and geographic boundaries to build ClimaCell into a viable business.  His vision for ClimaCell won him a Legatum Fellowship.

Rei Goffer is living the Sloan mission as a principled and innovative leader who is committed to improving the world. We cannot wait to see what he does next!”

Maura Herson
Director, MBA Program
MIT, Sloan School of Management

“Rei embodies the mission of the Legatum Center to improve lives through ethical entrepreneurial leadership. As a founding member of ClimaCell, he is revolutionizing how governments, relief agencies, and agriculture insurers access weather data and make decisions that improve safety and livelihoods of those vulnerable to extreme weather phenomena. Rei sees opportunities to create solutions for complex challenges using technology and talent and is an inspiration to his peers in how to use the abundant resources of the MIT entrepreneurship ecosystem to launch a high-impact venture.”

Georgina Campbell
Executive Director The Legatum Center
Lecturer in Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management 

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