The Fellowship’s Guest Speakers

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By: David Morency, Summer Fellow, Lehigh University

Several times a week, we leave from our startups and venture capital firms to attend guest speaker events. One day, this could be a panel on women leadership in tech featuring directors of Google’s cloud computing division, AOL’s venture capital arm – Nautilus, and artificial intelligence/Internet of things startup Neura. The next day, we are on an excursion to Nazareth to learn about Arab innovation in Israel from the founder and chairman of Babcom Centers, Imad Telhami. These inspiring guest speakers and the several others that share their valuable time and insight with us have helped make our program a once in a lifetime experience – one filled with rare opportunities for intimate dialogue with international leaders in technology, business, and politics.

One of my favorite speaking events was with David Broder. Mr. Broder is the Director of Marketing Operations at WIX.com – an intuitive, cloud-based web development platform. WIX celebrated its IPO on the NASDAQ in 2013 and is currently valued at a market capitalization of ~$1.5 billion. On Tuesday, we joined Mr. Broder on the rooftop of WIX’s headquarters in Tel Aviv. The rooftop overlooks the scenic Namal area, which stretches for several miles down the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. After a wonderful meal, we sat down to learn about WIX, its leadership, and current trends in the web development space. We viewed WIX’s expectations for the future through the eyes of one of their strategic leaders. Broder explained that WIX’s future is one where professional and novice web developers will both have the resources to build ideal websites easily and efficiently. WIX will approach this future by introducing advanced tools for professional web developers – currently a huge, untapped market – and artificial intelligence products, such as WIX ADI – a platform that designs tailored websites by learning about each person’s or business’ own needs.

In addition to the interesting content, I enjoyed the format of Mr. Broder’s presentation. The entire presentation was led by intelligent questions from an engaged audience. It was a candid, detailed conversation. After his talk, like many of our guest speakers, Mr. Broder made himself available to chat with individual students. In that personal setting, he addressed specific questions we had regarding our studies and interests. He gave each of us tailored advice on potential internships and skills we might want to consider in order to achieve unique goals.

Guest speakers like Mr. Broder have enriched our world views, encouraged us to dream big, and helped us to envision the steps we can take to become global leaders. I am deeply grateful for being able to enjoy such customized, experiential learning opportunities throughout this Fellowship.

Thank you to our organizers and the following companies that volunteered their time to speak with us:

Terra Venture Partners, Lool Ventures, Cool Cousin, FLO, Upwest Labs, MassChallenge, Microsoft Accelerator, LionBird Venture Capital, Google, Neura, Super Ventures, HP, Airobotics, Nautilus by Aol, Babcom, Jezreel Winery, Tzofen , Homrun Group, WIX