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Archive for February, 2015

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Chairman of the Technion Executive Council and Microsoft Israel CEO Danny Yamin. Photo credit: Kobi Kantor

As Chairman of the Technion Executive Council, Danny Yamin, a Technion graduate and CEO of Microsoft Israel, advises the Technion on administrative and financial matters. At the time of his appointment in 2012, Technion President Peretz Lavie said: “Danny Yamin’s vast management experience in a global organization is essential at a time when the Technion itself is treading deeper into the global arena.”

Last month, ATS Associate VP of Communications Tova Kantrowitz had the chance to sit down with Danny on the Technion campus to talk about the work of the Council and to hear his thoughts about the Technion’s global reach.

What is the role of the Technion Executive Council?

It is like a Board of Directors at a company, and every university in Israel has a similar governing body. Our role is to supervise Technion leadership activity, help develop strategy and approve budgets. We have committees such as financial and audit, for example, which make sure everything is conducted according to the law and meets expectations. For any major plan the Technion has, we make sure that all decisions are consistent with the overall strategic plan of the university.

Who makes up the membership?

The Technion’s 23 Council members include public representatives such as myself, together with Technion professors, past presidents and industry leaders. Not all members are engineers or technologists, as I have tried to make the Council a diverse team in order to have a rich dialogue with the Technion leadership. Each volunteer member serves for nine years.

How has the Council benefited the Technion in recent times?

We have great leadership and management at the Technion, but global projects such as those in New York and China are new to the university. So having Council members such as myself and others with global multinational experience is very helpful. Right here at home, Israel’s future depends on quality technological education, and there is no doubt in my mind that the experience, knowledge and skills of our members contribute greatly to the influence and future of the Technion, as well as to the scope and quality of its graduates.

How is your working relationship with the Technion administration?

I have a strong partnership with President Peretz Lavie and I believe he is one of the Technion’s best presidents. We have lots of work to do together, and I feel privileged to work with him and to be surrounded by so many talented people.

What strategic goals do you help with?

We want the Technion to be on the same level as the Ivy Leagues. Our goal is for more young people to aspire to become students of the Technion. We used to export Jaffa oranges, and now we export knowledge, products, and know-how, and the Technion is an acknowledged leader in this space. We want to raise the Technion’s profile in this area to an even greater degree.

Why is “globalization” so important?

Globalization has a lot to do with the way people in Israel view the Technion. Success for a company is based on its becoming global, and one of the key attributes of the Technion’s success is its ability to be global. Representing Israel in this way is fantastic. When it comes to health and energy, Israel in general and the Technion specifically help solve the world problems.

Can you tell us a little bit about Microsoft Israel?

I have been the CEO of Microsoft Israel since 2004 but have worked at the company for 12 years. We have R & D centers here in Haifa and in Herziliya. I represent Microsoft in Israel, and Israel at Microsoft. Microsoft is a business, but as a company we invest in Israel in areas such as education. The fact that there are significant Microsoft R & D centers in Israel speaks to the importance of investment here. The majority of engineers in the Haifa facility are Technion graduates, and we also employ students and provide scholarships. Microsoft is part of the unique Israeli ecosystem that includes large companies, start-ups, and strong academic institutions – all these ingredients work together to create the “secret sauce” for success.

Given your busy role as Microsoft Israel’s CEO, why did you decide to take on the Technion position?

I previously served as Chairman of the Technion Alumni 100 Club and was also a member of the Council before becoming its Chairman. Volunteering is my way of giving back to the Technion because everything I have is thanks to the education I received. I was raised in a middle class family and the only asset I have is my Technion education.

What role does the American Technion Society play in advancing the Technion?

We are happy to have the support of the American Technion Society. It is the largest Society; it is a great help and we need it. The country has many needs and government support is not enough – that is where the ATS comes in.

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