The M.A. in Organizational Behavior and Development at IDC Herzliya has established itself as one of the top tracks of its kind in Israel, standing out with its dedicated faculty and one-of-a-kind Practicum option. The two-year program, jointly run by the Arison School of Business and the Baruch Ivcher School of Psychology, offers students the opportunity to acquire theoretical expertise on issues affecting organizational development and management, and also provides practical experience, with students conducting a full organizational diagnosis at a real company or NGO.
Program head Dr. Dana Pereg says one of its many advantages is that both the Hebrew track, which was established from the outset, and the English option, set up a year later, are almost identical. “Our ethos of ‘One Program, Two Languages’ unites people and encourages social and professional connections between international and Israeli students,” Pereg says.
The program currently has 150 students, with more than 350 alumni working in diverse fields, from high-tech companies such as Google and Intel to relief organizations such as the American-Jewish Joint Distribution Committee to public sector bodies such as the IDF and Israel Police. The alumni remain connected to the program and, with their broad expertise, provide a useful resource to current students.
Pereg believes that one of the unique aspects of the program is the Practicum section, in which teams of students put their knowledge to the test in real organizations, ranging from high-tech companies to NGO's. “The Practicum at IDC strengthens each student’s identity as a consultant and also acts a laboratory of sorts where students can integrate what they have learned in different courses,” she says.
The Practicum is run as a consulting firm that gives pro bono services to organizations from the public, private and NGO sectors. “I always tell companies that the standards of our work are the standards of private consulting firms,” Pereg says, highlighting that it naturally takes more time and effort for a team of students to reach their goal than for an experienced consultant. In order to maintain high standards, supervisors thoroughly check each document or report sent to clients. “The organizations are our clients,” Pereg says. “We provide them a good service. As a result, many satisfied companies come back to us year after year.”
Dr. Zohar Rubinstein, head of the Practicum, says one of the main reasons for its success is the high level of supervision from experienced professionals, all IDC faculty. The students are divided into small groups of 10 to 12, which makes individualized attention and support possible. “There isn’t a comparable program in Israel, and to the best of my knowledge, it’s also unique worldwide,” he says.
Rubinstein describes the Practicum as "a journey that we offer the students.” In their first year, students are encouraged to develop their identities as consultants. In the second year, teamwork is the focus, and the students are divided into teams of three and placed in organizations to run an organizational diagnosis, at the end of which, assisted by their supervisors, they submit a detailed report. “The diagnoses in some cases have had an extremely positive impact in the organizations where they were performed,” says Rubinstein, adding that one high-profile organization has put the students' recommendations into its annual working plans. “We always get great feedback. My intention in the second study year is to make the organizations forget that they are dealing with students and see them as professionals – and to an extent this is actually being achieved.”
Shani Hai, a recent graduate from the program who went to work as an organizational consultant at Lotem, a top Israeli management consulting firm, says the Practicum honed her consulting skills. “You learn all about your strengths and weaknesses; it's very empowering," she says. "I was a student but I was treated as a professional.” She adds that the faculty was extremely supportive and “gave me everything I needed in order to set up as a consultant.”
Kayda Prodgers from South Africa, another recent graduate now working part-time as executive assistant and assistant consultant to Dr. Amir Kfir, founder and CEO of Amirror Group, says the Practicum offers “a genuine experience in organizational interactions and puts you directly in the shoes of a consultant.” She says the guided supervision the students received was critical to the success of their projects, and she felt she always could turn to the supervisors for advice. “I definitely feel that the Practicum gives one a small taste of what's out there, and the skills learned help me to feel ready and well-equipped to enter the world of consulting outside of the academic framework.”
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