In Your Own Words – Yotvat Rieder Aviram, Worldwide Communications Manager, HP, Graphics Printing
What were you like when you studied at CBS?
Like almost everything that is great about starting out your adult life, I reached CBS by a series of leaps of faith and a spirit of adventure. During my Political Science studies at Tel Aviv University, I was accepted to a summer exchange programme at CBS. At the time, I knew little about Denmark, less about business and primarily thought it would be a “road less travelled” to fulfill my elective course requirements. What started out as a youthful adventure, turned into some key chapters of my life.
I grew up in a research-oriented home, with a scientist father and a psychologist mother, making the research and analytical aspects of the International Business studies a compelling second skin to me. I found myself specifically thriving in courses that related to business analysis and strategy. However, I knew I lacked practical understanding of what makes the organizational mechanism function and I was determined to bridge that gap. I attended any possible company presentation and workshop CBS offered, raised my hand when I needed clarifications and drove myself to overcome my wallflower-tendencies and share another perspective on a topic discussed. I made a point of interacting with people working in different industries in order to better understand the practical aspects of corporate life and I did an internship at a Danish high-tech company, through a partnership between the company and CBS, where I was part of analyzing and building a business plan. My CBS years were also extremely colored by student life at Studentergaarden, one of the country’s oldest dorms, full of Danish tradition.
How did you get your first job after graduating from CBS?
During my student years, I gained experience through several strategy and marketing internships. As I finished my MSc. in International Business, I was fortunate to be selected to join Nordea’s Graduate Programme as a Strategy Advisor. While I was enthusiastic about this opportunity to shine, the beginning was rocky to say the least: with a contract from Nordea in my hand, I now had to approach the Danish Immigration authorities for a work visa… a process which took over three months. I am grateful that Nordea and my hiring manager believed in me enough to be willing to make the effort of convincing the authorities – as well as to be willing to wait three months for me to begin working there.
Some months after starting at Nordea, my business unit got a new worldwide general manager and I was happy to be selected as his management advisor. As such, one of the more interesting issues that reached my desk was increasing employee knowledge and engagement across 10 different countries through internal communications, a function which at the time did not exist on the worldwide level. This was an opportunity for me to envision an area of the business, create its infrastructure and channels and lead it in the organization.
Within that same year as a young graduate, I had gone through the uncertainties of job hunting, the exhilarating feeling of being selected for a position, months at home under a pending work visa, starting a wonderful position at Nordea… followed by shifting my direction from Strategy to Communications and getting to lead this new area.
Which moments of your career have been defining – and why?
If I’ve learned anything it’s to always do my utmost to position myself well and prepare to take on whatever opportunities may come my way. They are likely to turn into life-changing adventures. Getting to create from scratch and lead internal communications at a Nordea business unit is a great example of a moment I could not have predicted in advance, but certainly was happily ready to take on the opportunity when it presented itself. In 2011, I relocated my life from Copenhagen to Tel Aviv and started at Hewlett-Packard (HP) as the Communications Manager for one of HP’s worldwide divisions (Israel is one of HP’s hubs). I joined as part of that division’s management team, reporting to the general manager. 1.5 years into the role, I was offered the position of Communications Manager for two divisions end-to-end. Those have been great growth opportunities for me, which led to a true defining moment: Four years ago a senior Hewlett-Packard executive leading an entire worldwide business unit offered me to take on leading communications for his whole business unit and leverage some of the successes done on the division level. This was a role that did not exist before and would mean building and leading communications platforms for employee identity and engagement for a business including six distinct divisions in numerous countries across the globe. It felt at the time like pure magic, but looking back it all falls under the same category – be ready to embrace change.
What is the most valuable experience you gained while at CBS that you still use in your daily work?
CBS is an outstanding business school in the sense that while maintaining its high standard, it includes such a wide spectrum of business disciplines. As a graduate of International Business, I was both part of an excellence-oriented group of students, while having access and guidance to the best of research in all business fields, always through the view of multinational companies. This has become my viewpoint of how we reach the highest level of professionalism and how I can help my organization thrive: trust in the organization to put some excellent people in place from different fields and experiences and be part of allowing for smooth collaboration and knowledge-sharing between them.
Have you maintained a relation to CBS since graduating?
Some of my best friends still today are my old CBS classmates. With the years, I’ve felt a greater need to reconnect with my old alma mater in a meaningful way and in 2018 I joined the CBS Mentoring Programme, which I do remotely through Skype. Still a mentor today, I feel it is a wonderful way to give back to the CBS community by utilizing some of my strongest professional competencies.