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As one of three company lecturers at my company, I have delivered talks in my country and abroad. One of my favorite tasks is to speak about how security is one of the most important aspects of any IT project. In theory, at least.

As a soldier and later an officer in the military Computer Corps for 7 years, my first and only goal (and that of my clients) was national security. Theory and practice were the same. I told clients what they needed to do, and they had no choice but to comply. Outside the army, it was a completely different story.

As a new legal hacker at my company in 2005, I started to comprehend the magnitude of the differences between the army and private industry that would force me to learn that the army theoretical experience was far from the reality of the civilian world.

In one example of a situation in which I needed to discriminate between practice and theory, I traveled to a bank in Zurich, Switzerland for a project. After performing a vulnerability assessment, I found many critical vulnerabilities that actually allowed people to steal money from the bank. While these were exciting results for me, bank managers were less responsive than I expected when I presented my findings. Though I was initially surprised that they were more concerned with business as usual than with dealing with security issues, I zoomed out and saw that the bank’s first priority was to make money.

From my strict security point of view, these types of vulnerabilities need to be remedied in days. The bank, however, was thinking about the loss of potential business that could result from the process of remediation of the problems. The bank project manager’s priorities are to keep his customers happy, to keep the system up and running, and to invest as little money as possible for issues that aren’t customer-demanded.

I live in the security world. If it had been up to me or in the army, I would have shut down the bank’s system completely for a few days to fix the problems completely. For me, security is central. But I came to understand that while in theory security is very important, in practice, organizations have higher purposes. For bank managers, security is peripheral. I realized that in the real world, customers call the shots. My challenge is to present the importance of my findings and to effectively stress the danger it poses to the core business, but also to accommodate the client’s needs and priorities. Once I made sure that the business effect of my findings was understood by bank personnel, we agreed on a timetable that would keep the system safe but wouldn’t unnecessarily disrupt the activities of the bank’s clients.

Working the last four years in private industry, I’ve come to an understanding: while in the army computer security-related theory and practice coincide, in the private sector there is a great difference between the two. It’s important to know computer security theory and how rules should apply regardless of outside influence, but in practice, things are more complicated when many new factors come into play.

My long-term professional goal is to start my own medical technology venture. Many of the projects I have been working on in the Technology Unit of the Intelligence Directorate utilize technologies that are applicable to medical devices. Over the years, out of research and personal interest, I have come up with several innovative ideas that I believe can improve diagnosis and procedures in the fields of dental health and cardiology.

The roles I have held in 10 years of military service have required me to implement and develop my teamwork, management, and leadership skills, as well as my cognitive and engineering skills. My strong understanding of the challenges introduced by technology, gained through all levels of involvement in interdisciplinary technological projects, from an engineer, through team and department leader, to project manager, will contribute to the success of the initiative. However, I need an MBA to learn how to transform my ideas into a viable business. I must learn skills related to finance, marketing, and strategic planning, in order to participate in the entire process of developing new technologies, and I believe that Columbia Business School offers unparalleled opportunities in the fields of entrepreneurship, product management, and healthcare.

I feel now is the right time for me to take all that I gained from my significant military service experience, as well as my initial foray into entrepreneurship, and take it forward with me to the world of business. Since I feel that my military service has already enabled me to make a significant contribution, and since I have grown and developed over the past 10 years, I have now decided to challenge myself in new ways. An MBA at Columbia Business School is the best way for me to transition from the military arena to the world of business, with the help of such organizations as the Military in Business Association.

The Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Management Program offer great focus and opportunities in the field of healthcare. I found that the emphasis put on an entrepreneurial mindset, combined with healthcare-specific courses, fit exactly with my goals. The Pharmaceutical Development and Commercialization Workshop, which covers the entire lifecycle of a product, will give me a broad understanding of how a healthcare product is developed and marketed. Also, after some research about the Healthcare Industry Association, I have learned that HCIA works closely not only with the administration and the director of the healthcare program at CBS, but also with alumni industry professionals, and arranges the CBS healthcare conference annually. In addition, HCIA’s networking events, career opportunities, panels, and support in the recruiting process make it a strong advantage to students who are interested in developing in the healthcare industry. I would love to contribute to this club since I believe it can enhance greatly the influence of Columbia Business School in the field of healthcare and can strengthen Columbia’s reputation as a gateway to the healthcare business industry for students who are interested in that field.

The school’s location in the heart of New York City, a city I love and have visited several times, is appealing for both my partner and me. I am relocating with my wife, and her interests and career opportunities are significant factors in my program selection. She has many professional and academic opportunities in the city. Regarding me, the fact that NYC is the home to some of the world’s largest healthcare corporations is a major advantage. In order to learn first-hand about the unique CBS spirit and atmosphere, my partner and I plan to include a campus visit on our honeymoon trip this October.

I am related to Joe, a famous geologist who, after 40 years of futile drilling, lost his financial backing and had to relinquish his stake in what, a month later, became the largest find of natural gas in our country’s history.

I was always inspired by Joe’s persistent character, his pivotal role in this discovery, and his talk of a cleaner future, the need to free our country from its dependency on oil. Joe was left with bragging rights only; the story painfully demonstrates how much is on the line when it comes to energy financing. That’s why after graduation I intend to join a leading investment bank, such as Credit Suisse or Morgan Stanley and concentrate on their energy practice. Those firms are hands-on participants in clean energy assimilation and positioned to advocate regulatory changes. They are also among Columbia’s top recruiters. That will be my first step towards achieving my ultimate goal – to lead a vehicle dedicated solely to investments in renewable energy projects. The $1.1 Billion Hudson Clean Energy Partners, a Private Equity fund I know firsthand from working on its investments in my country, is my beacon in setting this goal.

At university, I volunteered for the Clinical Program for Environmental Justice. This program taught more than just social environmental theory. I actively participated in several petitions to the Supreme Court, as well as promoting the adoption of a “Polluters Pay” bill. My conviction that sustainability and business development are intrinsically contradictory was inverted, however, when I joined Veolia Environment. As part of a technical-legal-financial team qualifying project for registration under the xxx Protocol, I learned firsthand how sustainability can be incorporated into international businesses’ long-term strategic plans. I also worked closely with CEOs in the group and realized that eventually I strongly wanted to aim for international management.

Today, I am lucky to be on the Infrastructure Project Finance team at ______, where I had the “eureka!” moment for my career trajectory, after representing institutional investors, investment banks, and target companies in some of the most innovative, groundbreaking renewable energy deals in my country.

Team-working to structure a $100 million mezzanine financing for a solar energy company, I witnessed how new investing solutions are tailored. The Decision Brief method, invented at Columbia by Dean Hubbard, will be the ideal tool for me to hone such problem-solving skills, and redirect them from my previous experience in the military and as a lawyer. The opportunity to study with professors such as Bruce Greenwald, a leading authority on Value Investing, will complement those skills with a deeper understanding of investing considerations, another gap of mine.

Electives such as Introduction to Venturing, and Strategy For High Tech Companies also came highly recommended by a Columbia alumnus I’ve spoken with, to help me think strategically about renewable energy project venturing.

Columbia’s program is exactly the inspiration I need to establish a renewable energy investment venture. Perhaps I’ll try for a 2012 win, similar to Columbia’s winning student team at the 2008 GSVC, with their business plan for MicroEnergy Credits Corp, using connections between the emissions cap-and-trade market and the Internet to make resources such as solar lighting available to those without access to electricity.

With almost 40% international students, representing over 50 countries, Columbia will help me develop leadership and management skills in a truly international context, while I contribute to my classmates’ learning experience from my own. I intend to take full advantage of the opportunity through club membership.

Through email correspondence with Ramsey Troughton (’11), I learned that the Energy Club provides summer internships and full-time opportunities to work in energy finance at larger firms and smaller boutiques. The Private Equity & Venture Capital Club, and the Investment Banking Club (IBC), is just as relevant, providing assistance in meeting industry recruiters. The field of renewable energy has limitless growth potential; take, for example, President Obama’s plan, outlined last year, to spend $209 billion from the federal budget and economic stimulus funds to promote clean energy. I cannot wait to learn and be challenged daily by the best and brightest from around the world at Columbia, as I prepare, personally and professionally, to jump into this developing world.

The thrilling challenge of working in a cutting-edge military intelligence unit and at a dynamic cyber technology startup have convinced me that I want to devote my professional life to pushing the boundaries of change. The world’s next big tech – autonomous vehicles – will radically change our lifestyle and introduce unprecedented opportunities. This is where I aim to be in the next 3-5 years, helping to shape the new reality.

In the short term, my goal is to become a Product Manager at a leading-edge company like Google’s Waymo or Uber. My role as consultant to a boutique technology VC taught me to focus on a product’s vision, and I look forward to building a product roadmap based on customer feedback and competitors, working with diverse people on interdisciplinary teams to see our ideas to fruition, and ensuring that our product makes an impact. Here, I will develop my network in the field, as I learn about planning, executing, and selling a product – all essential for my ultimate goals.

The development of autonomous vehicles requires a deep understanding of both cyber and machine vision to make them safe and effective, combined with the entrepreneurial foresight to change how the world commutes. My computer science education, combined with my experience at a successful cyber start-up and leading multi-million-dollar satellite intelligence projects in the Defense Force’s Visual Collection unit has given me unique expertise in building secure, complex products that are essential for becoming an influential Product Manager of autonomous vehicles and related technologies.

As massive traffic jams are ubiquitous in my country, I was ecstatic about participating in a hackathon sponsored by a national transportation company aimed at improving traffic infrastructure! Using advanced machine-vision techniques and existing infrastructure, I devised a software solution for busy intersections that significantly reduced road congestion for a fraction of previous costs. Not only did I win the competition, but my solution is about to be piloted by the Roads.

I believe that autonomous vehicles are just the start of an even greater revolution: the conversion to Smart Cities. Therefore, after leading efforts in the field of autonomous vehicles, I aim to leverage that experience to tackle one of the biggest challenges of the populous 21st century: creating cities with high quality of life. My dream job is to start and run a company that plans and executes smart transportation infrastructure in future cities. According to information Age, this field is already hot – 66% of American cities are investing in Smart City technologies – yet still in its infancy. Leveraging my experience to influence the future of this trend will allow me to leave an enduring positive impact on millions of lives.

I lived for several months in Singapore, currently, the world’s smartest city, where I saw a glimpse of the future: high quality of life featuring safety, convenience, and environmental sustainability. Singapore stood in stark contrast to my home country, which despite being a technological leader, lacks a great deal in urban infrastructure. Tel Aviv doesn’t even have a subway system yet!

Utilizing a Columbia MBA as well as my experience in autonomous vehicles and cyber security – two backbones of future cities – I envision launching a company that changes the way we live in the cities we love.

I always wanted to be like my father, a serial entrepreneur running the family business. As I grew older, I discovered an unspoken truth standing between me and my dream: of my eleven paternal aunts, not one was involved in the family business. The business is now passing to the third generation, and I see us blindly inheriting that unspoken truth, as my younger brother and male cousins are being positioned to lead the company. Regardless of the barriers, I’m holding strong to my dream and I aspire to be the first female leader of our family business. I believe that an MBA from Columbia Business School will empower me to achieve my aspiration.

When I returned to Saudi after earning my Bachelor’s degree in the US, I decided to work for Aramco, which is exempt from the government’s strict segregation rules. I was committed to proving myself in a male-dominated workplace. When I joined Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Saudi Aramco, the senior professionals managing investment and business development activities were skeptical about delegating to young professionals, specifically a female with no technical background.

When an opportunity arose to establish the firm’s satellite offices in Europe, I took advantage of what I believed would be a more open work environment. I shadowed senior investment professionals, attended conferences and met with startups, and gradually started building my own venture capital network. Six months later, armed with the hands-on experience I had gained in Europe, I returned to Saudi as a capable venture capitalist. I am now closing investments in technologies that add value to the company’s core business, despite knowing little about the oil industry when I first joined. This experience exposed me to the current challenges and the future outlook of the energy sector in Saudi. I also gained knowledge on the different aspects that contribute to the success of a business.

With Saudi Arabia going through major transformations to diversify its economy, it is crucial for our family business, which is currently focused on the oil industry, to adapt to this new reality and expand into other sectors as well. I aspire to develop a new growth strategy for the business, set its long-term objectives, and plan for its success through future generations.

CBS’ Master Classes and focus on entrepreneurship is what first drew me to the school. As I know that I will be facing numerous gender and cultural barriers in my country to reach my ultimate goal, the opportunity to gain hands-on learning experience in an open environment is of great advantage to me. It will help me successfully overcome the challenges and implement the methodologies in my own family business in the future. Since I plan to grow the company by expanding into new sectors, gaining entrepreneurial skills is necessary for my success.  I look forward to leveraging the programs of The Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center to maximize my learning during the program.

CBS will also help me expand my horizons and gain exposure outside of oil and gas through resources such as the Executives in Residence Program and the Silfen Leadership Series. The opportunity to learn from both academic faculty and great practitioners – including xx and yy – from various fields will prove invaluable.

After talking to CBS alumni, including a number of my colleagues, and visiting the School in November 2016, I am convinced that it is the community I want to join. Given the conservative mindset of Saudi, I find it necessary to be in a diverse and collaborative community. CBS’s clusters and teams will allow me to learn from various backgrounds, share and debate different viewpoints, as well as gain a strong alumni network that will continue to support me throughout my journey. CBS will provide me with an ideal environment to become an effective female leader and an active participant in the growth of my country.

After completing my MBA degree at CBS, I intend to become a Product Manager at Google or another global tech firm. My goal here is to influence the technology and design of future products by building a vision and executing a strategy. I want to be at the forefront of sketching out ways to fix problems creating new opportunities and creating a vision for the future. I believe that being a Product Manager and managing a multidisciplinary team will provide me with the critical experience required to oversee an ever-expanding group until I reach my ultimate goal of managing an entire region. My dream is to be a top executive in the EMEA region at Google or another global tech company and make a true impact through technology. I envision driving the company’s efforts to improve lives by increasing connectivity promoting digital literacy in underserved populations and helping people live and work more productively. My international experience, both at EY and at Google, has created some exciting prospects for advancement, and I have already been approached by my Director about positions in other countries as well. Yet, at this juncture in my career, I realize that I must strengthen my competency in several business aspects that will serve me as I strive to rise to the top of a global high-tech company. I am particularly eager to broaden my professional knowledge by enrolling in classes such as “Strategy Formulation” and “Business Analytics”, which will prepare me to make a maximum contribution out of the gate in my short-term goal of Product Manager. Moreover, being a part of CBS’s Technology Business Group and participating in its Product Management workshops is a perfect way to gain the skills required to ensure post-MBA success. I also can’t wait to develop the leadership skills I will need in a management position through the various offerings of the Leadership Lab and through learning specifically from other women role models as an active participant in the CWiB. CBS is my first choice because of its general excellence, the recommendations I got from CBS alumni, including my uncle Chani Natovich, and the added value attached to a CBS education in the high-tech industry. CBS’s top-ranking promises to bring together an exciting cohort with wide-ranging experiences and cultures; who can open my mind to new ventures and help expand my horizons in other ways. I also hope that CBS will also enlarge my circle of friends and future partners. All in all, I believe that with Columbia’s signature theory-into-action approach, plus a broad education in relevant fields, I can eventually establish myself as a top leader in the high-tech industry.

CBS will provide me with a unique environment to gain exposure to a variety of business opportunities and ventures in NYC. CBS will enable me to reach out and learn from the experience of Product Managers in Google’s Chelsea office or in other large high-tech companies, by facilitating a school-year internship that simply does not exist at other schools. In my second year, participating in a tech-sector Master Class will enable me to interact with leaders of a real company and help them solve real-world issues. In addition, my family still retains investments in the Big Apple and I intend to gain the required skills to deepen my involvement in these investments.

Since philanthropy and community service are high priorities for me, I also would love to take the “Effective Philanthropy in Urban Communities” course, and utilize the lessons I learn from working with non-profits in NYC to help “Back to Society”, an NGO with which I am involved in rehabilitating former prisoners.

I am looking forward to drawing on the numerous experts that come to campus as part of the Executives in Residence Program and the Silfen Leadership Series, which will open my eyes to the new frontiers of business in different fields. I also plan to take an active part in bringing tech-business leaders to campus by helping to plan the annual Women in Business Conference.

Finally, I am eager to bring together a running team to train for and compete in the incredible New York City Marathon.

My team was assigned to prepare a “deep dive” into a client’s account and create a presentation. This process usually entails what airlines call “cross-check,” meaning that one person has verified the tasks of another. Unfortunately, our team was overtaxed at the time, and the cross- was not properly executed. As the one who prepared the analysis, I should have insisted on the cross-check process.

When we presented our findings to the client, we showed that the client’s revenue was declining, for which I also prepared a recovery plan. The client was stunned by the data and angrily insisted that the business was not in a deficit as we claimed.

I asked to stop the meeting to reexamine my analysis and rescheduled an alternative meeting for another date. I quickly realized that indeed I made a mistake, which no one had discovered since cross-check was not executed. I immediately alerted my boss about my mistake. I then called the client, apologized, and assured them I would prepare another evaluation. The client appreciated my candor, and I worked all night preparing the new evaluation. This time I insisted on a thorough cross-check.

I assembled our team, gave a report to everybody, and took full responsibility while insisting that from now on there had to be a third-person outside the team overseeing the cross-check so that this failure never repeats itself.

This mandatory third-party cross-check is now part of our guidelines, which ensures that mistakes are discovered before meeting clients.

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