FROM ISRAEL TO THE DEVELOPING WORLD | Sarah Cohan

Added on: 5th April 2015

 

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Before coming to Israel, Sarah worked at Oliver Wyman, a leading global management consulting firm that combines deep industry knowledge with specialized expertise in strategy, operations, risk management, and organization transformation. Oliver Wyman has a program called a ‘non profit fellowship‘  where employees can take partially-paid time off to volunteer for a nonprofit organization.  It was through this non profit fellowship that Sarah discovered a chance to come back to Israel where she spent 5 months interning with the Pears Program for Global Innovation in Tel Aviv.

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Originally written for Oliver Wyman

My non-profit fellowship with the Pears Program for Global Innovation in Tel Aviv, Israel provided a rich variety of learning experiences both professionally and personally. The non-profit fellowship is a unique opportunity which we are lucky to have at Oliver Wyman, to pursue something you are passionate about and to give back to the global community in a way that can also enhance your career. For me, it was a desire to learn about the world of startups, which would be difficult through my work at OW. I also had a personal interest in spending time in and learning more about Israel. I found a perfect fit for these goals through Career Israel, a unique internship program which connects participants to fellowship opportunities with Israeli organizations and also provides trips around Israel, Hebrew language classes, and educational programming. While participation in this type of program was unprecedented for a non-profit fellow, it is a great example of how Oliver Wyman consultants can use this opportunity to create a program that meets both their professional and personal goals.

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The Pears Program for Global Innovation aims to increase Israel’s contribution to international development through technology based, financially sustainable solutions to challenges of the developing world. Their flagship initiative is the Pears Challenge, a fellowship program which helps outstanding entrepreneurs establish ventures aimed at improving lives in emerging markets. My work at the Pears Program touched every part of the organization, from participating in the strategic redesign of the Pears Challenge; to developing content and sourcing designers for the program’s new website; to advising a solar energy optimization startup on market entry strategy and end user needs. I was invited to join team meetings with government officials, experts in international development, venture capitalists, aspiring entrepreneurs, leaders of startup accelerators, and more.

Through my work I got a behind-the-scenes look at the development of several early- and mid-stage startups as well as the ecosystem-level institutions working to support the continued growth of Israel’s “innovation for international development” industry. Run by a small team with big ambitions, the Pears Program operated very much like a startup itself, juggling many different mission-critical projects at once and constantly working to find internal processes that support both flexibility and organization. I found that the skills I have developed at Oliver Wyman in project management, structured thinking, research, and strategic creativity allowed me to provide valuable suggestions and set a good example in my own work. My work at the Pears Program helped me gain the professional knowledge I was looking for while supporting an organization that is doing great things for Israel and for the world.