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Where in the World did you Spend your Summer–Shahar Ziv (OE)

What:
Better Place

Where:
CA

What did you do this summer?
I had the privilege of working at Better Place, a truly innovative start up aimed at catalyzing the mass-market for electric vehicles and relieving the world’s dependence on oil. By deploying switchable battery-powered electric cars and creating the necessary infrastructure to make these cars financially and operationally feasible, Better Place is redefining the economics of transportation and creating a comprehensive personal transportation network that is scalable and sustainable.

Better Place has operating companies set up in target countries and regions including Israel, Denmark, Australia. During the summer, I worked as part of the Global Operations Strategy team to help drive scalability across the organization and create strategic and operational plans for their operating companies. Specifically, I created a program management capability for North America to strategically oversee its portfolio of demo projects and enable business-driven prioritization, identification of cross-project risks and dependencies, and efficient resource allocation. I also managed the development of data-driven strategic insight for a key pilot project to demonstrate the world’s first switchable-battery electric taxi in Tokyo, which has more taxis, approximately 60,000, than New York, London, and Paris combined. These insights are serving as critical inputs as Better Place moves towards commercial launch in Israel and Denmark next year.

What was your background prior to HBS?
I worked in Management Consulting for four years focusing on transportation, retail, and consumer packaged goods companies.

Why did you choose to spend your internship in Better Place?
Better Place’s founder, Shai Agassi, is a visionary whose entrepreneurial drive I admire. I had followed the company with tremendous interest since its founding in 2007 and was attracted to working at a truly innovative company that was disrupting the industry and using a novel approach to build momentum around solving a global predicament.

The extensive interview process also exposed me to the many accomplished individuals who worked at the company and signaled that it would be an environment where I would be challenged and have an opportunity to both learn and contribute.

It was also a chance for me to take a geographic risk and leave the east coast to see if Katy Perry was right that “nothing comes close to the Golden Coast.”

What advice do you have for RCs looking for summer internships?
Take Jana Kierstead’s analogy to 6-year olds playing soccer to heart and don’t be afraid to try something different by taking a risk for the summer. Be patient and don’t freak out if you don’t have an internship nailed down after recruiting week (I didn’t get my offer at Better Place until early April), but don’t get complacent or expect the jobs to come to you.

September 13, 2010
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