Meet IESE Business School’s MBA Class Of 2021

Yahel Halamish 

IESE Business School Class of 2021 at the University of Navarra

“Relentless optimistic with a critical approach who is always looking for the next challenge.”

Hometown: Tel Aviv, Israel

Fun Fact About Yourself: I “drove” a submarine.

Undergraduate School and Major: The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, LL.b, double major in Laws and Economics

Most Recent Employer and Job Title:  Alternative Investments Analyst, Altshuler Shaham (One of Israel’s largest investments house)

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I think my biggest accomplishment so far was actually to change my career. I began my career as a corporate lawyer. During my internship, I already sensed that I would not take the career path of working as an attorney. However as I received an offer to stay on as an associate, I decided to give it a real trial before deciding to change my career path. I also knew that legal experience would undoubtedly come in useful whatever direction I ultimately chose. Half a year into my job, as my feelings remained the same, I decided to seek a position that would expand my horizons and challenge me on a daily basis. A few months later, a friend told me about the position in Altshuler Shaham, and I felt that this was a position that had the potential to challenge me. This proved correct and set me upon the path of my future career in investments.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Based on who I’ve met so far, I would have to say that curiosity is one of the top qualities I’ve noticed – everyone is very eager to learn about each other and from each other. Moreover, people are very outgoing. A few months ago, we had an admitted weekend. Since I came alone, I feared that people will naturally group by countries. However, it was to the contrary – everyone was looking to socialize and meet new people. I also find my classmates to be intelligent, bright, enthusiastic, and open-minded.

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager? I had a chance to participate in a class that was analyzing case studies prior to submitting my application to IESE – and I must say this class had a major impact over my decision. Actually, looking back, I now feel that this also relates directly to the traits I’ve recognized in my future classmates. First and foremost, the communication in the class was very fluent. It allowed people to share their perspective and, at the same time, be enriched by the views and opinions of others. More specifically for me, I’m very analytical yet creative person (I was surrounded by art and painted from as long that I can remember myself) and I think the case method combines the two perfectly by expending the mind and looking for creative yet practical solutions. Furthermore, this can enhance so many skills such as better communication, teamwork, people-oriented leadership. At the same time, it sharpens the ability to pay attention to details. All very important skills in today’s world.

Aside from classmates and cases, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? The fact that IESE stamps on its flags the issue of positive leadership, Doing Good Doing Well agenda, truly symbolizes the nature of the school culture. Even though I visited the school prior to my admission, you can never really know the culture until you become a part of it and this was another indication for me. We were even asked what impact we would wish to make as part of the essays in our admission process. As someone who had a lot of different volunteering experiences throughout the years, I felt firsthand the power of doing good and positive impact is always in my mind.

Moreover, looking at the business world, I think that the issue of responsible investing and the importance of environmental and social moral standings in companies are increasingly gaining recognition – There are studies that show a positive correlation between better ESG ratings and positive performance. More importantly, there is an increasing voice from financial leaders such as Larry Fink, CEO of Blackrock, calling to seize the mantle of leadership and go beyond making profits to making the world a better place. Therefore, I feel this issue is even more relevant now than ever.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? As presumptuous as it might sound, I’m really looking forward to joining the Women in Business club. For as long as I can remember, the issue of equal opportunities for women and girls has been of paramount importance to me. As an Alternative assets Analyst, my job included valuating, presenting, and negotiating transactions in a wide range of alternative assets and mainly Private Equity Funds. Working in the finance sector, I got to experience gender inequality on a daily basis – from reviewing a private equity fund with dozens of employees yet zero women in their investment team to being one of the few women sitting in a conference hall with more than a hundred participants. It is sad to see that such a large inequality still exists in the year of 2019. Since this is an issue that I feel so strongly about, I’m really looking forward to meeting other incredible women that experience that and to take an active position in changing this bias.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? “What is unique about you?”

I must say that I’ve encountered this question while preparing for interviews, but I found it so difficult that I’ve decided to leave it to fate and it caught me. I find this question challenging since one can easily sound arrogant just by answering this question. From one side, it’s a very subjective question that requires analyzing yourself (which is always a difficult thing to do) and your personal traits. From the other side, it’s a very objective question since at the bottom-line uniqueness is a measurement, one that compares you to others.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? The primary reason for me is that I wanted to go from local to global and I felt there is no better time and place to do it. Also, I really wanted the experience of studying in a diverse environment with people from different sectors and geographies and felt that an MBA was the best way to do this. From a career perspective, I felt that this experience will enhance my strengths while improving my weaknesses. By doing so, this will hopefully give me better access to employees in the PE market.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? ESADE

How did you determine your fit at various schools? Besides all the amazing features I already mentioned – culture, classmates, case method, and obliviously rankings – there is the major bonus of BARCELONA which is absolutely the best city to live in Europe (and I had the chance to travel quite a lot in Europe). Out of the features I’ve mentioned, the culture was the most prominent key in determining where to apply and I think there is no better way to sense this than visiting the campus. This is also the biggest TIP I have to give to future applicants. As I started to look for MBA programs, I knew I wanted to go to Europe. On paper, after doing the initial ranking screening, it is hard to really differentiate between the schools. I knew this is the place where I will spend a substantial amount of time. Also, at this point in life, it was important for me that I will have a positive experience and make substantial relationships with people (because in the end, people are the ones making an experience great). Bottom line: going to visit the different schools was key to getting a feel for which school can really fit me. As for career goals, I had talks with alumni, people from the career department, and (it might sound Creepy) did a bit of research on LinkedIn looking for alumnus that reached the positions I’m interested in. Reviewing the process and seeing real results gave me comfort that this school will provide me tools for my future career step.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? I don’t believe that a single moment can shape who I am. Life is a set of events and situations that shape who we are. For me, my parents probably had the greatest contribution. That being said, I feel that being a guide in a youth movement shaped my management skills; Doing different volunteering works taught me how to manage myself outside of my comfort zone; serving in the IDF had a huge contribution to my discipline, confidence and leadership skills; and backpacking through South America gave me a true sense of accomplishment. Those experiences and more shaped enhanced and improved the set of skills I already got from home.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?  In a general note, I want to be in a position in which I have control and challenge me every day. In a more specific note, I hope to work in the PE industry and wish to become a partner in a fund with a strategy that I feel passionate about.

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.