Meet The MBA Class of 2022: Alon Dror, Stanford GSB

Alon Dror

Stanford Graduate School of Business

“I’m uncomfortable in my comfort zone – it’s a pain but it gets me going.”

Hometown: Jerusalem, Israel

Fun Fact About Yourself: I spent 3 years living in a truck-mounted tiny house that I built on my own.

Undergraduate School and Major: Hebrew University – Talpiot Military Academy – Physics

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Head of R&D Section, MAFAT (the Israeli DARPA)

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Stanford GSB’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school, and why was it so important to you? The main reason I chose GSB was the opportunity to connect with leading entrepreneurs while taking part in some of the groundbreaking researchthat is being conducted at Stanford and its surroundings. My background is in R&D for defense, and I wanted to stay connected to technology and entrepreneurship, but in a wider context than just defense. Stanford is the best place for this in the world.

What has been the most surprising thing that you’ve learned about Stanford GSB so far? The extraordinary access to successful individuals and organizations is something I did not expect. I found that the GSB network can get you to practically anyone, and faculty members will proactively help you to get to the right person to answer your questions or help with your ideas. Professors are super involved and eager to help launch new ventures, making GSB a paradise for potential founders.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? They have an honest ambition to make a change and improve the world. I have yet to meet a single classmate who is not incredibly determined and working relentlessly to better their surroundings.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Receiving the Israel Defense Prize for my work at the Israeli DARPA. We managed to solve a major defense issue using technology previously considered to be science-fiction. This was the climax of three years of work, endless nights of experimenting (sometimes in active war zones), and with seemingly endless failures along the way. Everyone on my team gave everything they had, and for a long time, it seemed unsolvable. Eventually, we made it, directly saving civilians’ and soldiers’ lives. There is no better payoff for me.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? I came to the GSB after almost 10 years as an officer at the Israel Defense Force (IDF), and it’s a big part of who I am. I think my biggest accomplishment here was to deepen the political discussion in the GSB, to show people another side of Israel, and the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Social media nowadays is polarizing, and the discussions tend to be shallow. I felt that I was given the privilege to change this for my classmates and bring an entirely different perspective to the table. Fortunately, I took Keith Hennessy’s “Freedom Democracy and Capitalism” course in the second quarter. Keith encouraged me to talk about how I view the conflict and taught me how to conduct an open and productive dialogue, where you really hear the other side and understand a different point of view.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? INSEAD in France (wanted a 1-year program, and to be close to Israel) and Chicago Booth (there is a full scholarship for Israelis there).

What has been the biggest epiphany you’ve gained about yourself or the world since you started your MBA program? I used to think that there isn’t a right way to be an entrepreneur, and luck is the most important thing you need for your venture to be successful (given you already have a talented team and a great idea). After talking with so many successful professors and entrepreneurs in the Bay Area, I am sure that there is a right way to do it, and luck is less significant than I previously thought. Every entrepreneur has a unique path to success, but after hearing a lot of their stories, you can begin to recognize certain common patterns.

What advice would you give to a prospective applicant looking to join the Stanford GSB Class of 2023? The GSB is one of the most diverse environments out there; invest time to get to know people from different backgrounds and reach out of your social comfort zone. It can be a truly life-changing experience.


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