Cass Executive MBA Talks Israel-Palestine Elective

Cass Executive MBA

Core courses are essential to any MBA program. However, it’s the electives that can truly shape a program for the individual. For Harold Okwa, a Modular Executive MBA at Cass Business School City University London, one elective course that stood out was Innovation & Technology in Israel and Palestine.

In a blog post titled “When Innovation is your Only Option,” Okwa explains his choice, saying, “In my opinion, the Israel-Palestine elective was most thought provoking, and it discredited everything I ever knew about the region; Israel using its ‘obsession’ for security to secure itself from its Arab neighbor nations, to Palestine coming to terms with their current realities, both resolving their issues by use of innovation and entrepreneurship to better their future.”

One unique aspect of the elective is that the class took place on the ground in Tel-Aviv and Palestine for a week. For the first three days, Okwa and his classmates visited various companies and organizations throughout Tel-Aviv including the Peres Centre for Peace, the Bridge (Coca-Cola’s accelerator program) and 83 North (a venture capital firm).

“Another exciting part was the panel discussions, where we met a group of female entrepreneurs, angel investors, and different co-founders who were are at various stages of their start-up journey,” Okwa wrote. “These were very enlightening and educational experiences.”

Then, the class traded their Israeli tour guide for an Arab Palestinian guide and they left the West Bank border of Israel to visit Ramallah. For Okwa, it was a stark change. In Ramallah there was no 3G mobile Internet and thanks to subtle changes in roof tops and car number plates, he felt like he had “gone back in time.”

Still, the class met with numerous stakeholders in the technology and innovation ecosystem including co-working accelerator spaces, financial institutions such as the Bank of Palestine, entrepreneurs, and even politicians.

“The highlight of Palestine was visiting Rawabi city, and meeting with the man behind the vision, Bashar Masri, who didn’t hesitate to give us his thoughts on how Ramallah is doing business, his quest to bring development to the people of Palestine, and his thoughts on Israel,” Okwa said.

At the end of the trip, Okwa came back with a unique perspective. He was impressed by how both Israelis and the Palestinians used innovation and technology in an attempt to better their own lives. And, he even got some advice on how to utilize “waste” in his real estate business Vestates as well as how to improve his mobile application for his startup, Jetseta, a luxury transportation app. How a commercial luxury app helps ameliorate one of the world’s most pronounced conflicts involving an often-accused apartheid state remains to be seen, but Okwa’s optimism is strong.

“One of the main takeaways from the elective, is how optimism and innovation have acted as catalyst to the development of both Israel and Palestine (especially in the case of Rawabi city),” Okwa said. “In the words of the late President Peres ‘Optimists and Pessimists die the same way, but live differently.’”


About the Author

Kelly Vo    

Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and personal development.

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