New York, NY -
Eitan Ahimor, a second generation BIU grad, currently lives in New York and serves as VP of Citigroup Bank. During his MBA studies at Cornell University, he was introduced to the American tradition of alumni associations. Inspired by the idea, he established the Linkedin BIU Alumni group. Today, he hopes that similar to the larger universities in America, the BIU alumni community will become a significant and influential factor in the lives of its members.
Eitan Ahimor (35), was raised in the city of Rishon Le’Zion, and served as an intelligence officer in the IDF. After completing his army service in the early 2000’s with the rank of Lieutenant, he began studying at Bar-Ilan University for a Bachelor Degree in Economics and Business Administration.
After completing his BA at Bar-Ilan, Ahimor joined the Bank Hapoalim Management Program, where he was introduced to retail banking and financial marketing. He later moved to New York and enrolled in Cornell University’s MBA program. Immediately upon graduating he accepted an offer by Citigroup Bank to enlist in their retail division’s executive training program. “I filled several positions, among them, risk management, credit management, marketing, and digital banking. After climbing up the corporate ladder, I was offered the position of VP of Customer Retention at the bank’s credit card division, which I filled for two years.”
Since 2012, Ahimor has served as the VP of Product Development and Business Development at the bank’s credit cards division, a job which encompasses the development of new credit products and innovations, providing the bank with a strong competitive edge in the US market. “This position requires extensive experience and banking knowledge, as well as familiarity with new technological developments, identifying relevant start-ups in the market, business negotiation capabilities, and most importantly — creativity and the ability to plan and execute business strategies.”
Memories and Life Lessons from BIU
Ahimor maintains that the values guiding both his professional and personal life are endurance, hard work and daring. He says that at BIU he learned to value people with a wide range of knowledge beyond their specialty. “Extensive general knowledge, to me, shows versatility, comprehension, appreciation and open-mindedness. In hindsight, although my chosen study track at BIU was Economics, Jewish studies also played a vital role in my education. Today I know that those two disciplines complement each other.”
Additionally, Ahimor says that it was at Bar-Ilan that he learned to appreciate the ability to specialize in and focus on one specific field. “I owe a great deal to Bar-Ilan for its uncompromising striving for academic excellence in an array of disciplines that I rely on to this day. I learned that specializing in a specific field enables you to brand yourself and become an expert in that field. For instance, while studying for my BA at BIU I became acquainted with Game Theory, a subject I’m fascinated with and still study today. Directing my energy to this specific topic allowed me to gain the professional recognition of my peers, and prompted Prof. Bob Frank, one of America’s most prominent economists, to ask me (while at Cornell) to become a teaching assistant in his MBA economics class.”
“My time at Bar-Ilan was and always will be a magical one,” reminisces Ahimor. “I particularly remember the camaraderie, support, and togetherness amongst the students, both during my studies and at finals. The familial atmosphere alongside the professional excellence is, to me, what Bar-Ilan is all about, and what distinguishes it from any other university in Israel.” Ahimor adds that he is still in touch with some of his professors. “I sent an email to one of my professors because I needed his professional assistance, and was surprised at how quickly he responded and how willing he was to help me.”
The Alumni Community
While studying in the U.S., Ahimor got a close look at the alumni culture that is prevalent specifically in Ivy League schools, and became fully aware of the great influence these associations have on the future of alumni. Inspired by the Ivy Leagues, he established the Bar-Ilan Alumni Linkedin group.
“The professional lives and careers of the alumni of American universities, and especially of the Ivy Leagues, are directly influenced by their alma maters. Cornell, for instance, has a career guidance office, helping graduates find positions in the job market by contacting them to alumni already working in the relevant field. In my case, while still at the university I got in touch with Cornell alumni who worked at Citigroup Bank, in order to learn from them about the company, its culture, and career options. The good impressions I made on these alumni resulted in recommendations to the bank’s HR executives, who, in turn, offered me a position. These days I do the same for fresh alumni who contact me with questions about my career and request assistance in referring them to the relevant people in the company.”
Ahimor adds that Cornell University also helps its old alumni manage their careers, connecting them with other alumni for the purpose of business ventures. “The atmosphere of family and partnership are the cornerstones of the University’s culture and of the values it instills in its students. Alumni frequently visit the campus with their families, give lectures to students and recruit them as employees in their companies. And there is, of course, the tradition of generous financial donations by alumni.”
Ahimor explains that lectures offered during the university-run alumni reunions also provide networking opportunities. “Many of my business associations were created or began via the university and its alumni network. These are international connections, with people from all industries and disciplines.”
Linkedin — A Virtual Conference
Ahimor attributes great importance to the development of a strong and influential alumni network, and says he is happy to learn of the growth and activities of BIU’s alumni community. He decided to establish the BIU Alumni Linkedin group as another step in strengthening BIU alumni bonds. “Linkedin is a very popular business tool in the US, used for professional networking, and much like other social networks, contributes to the business dialogue and enables one to connect with fellow alumni, people you met at conferences, former colleagues, classmates, and more.” Ahimor compares social networks to a virtual professional conference of sorts, in which people can meet and exchange business cards.
“Social networks provide an opportunity to establish initial connections with people you have briefly met or heard of, creating quick and relevant ‘second level’ contacts. University alumni, for example, can use this platform as a means to reach out to other alumni whom they never met, introduce themselves, share knowledge, and ask for career advice.” If the alumnus or alumna who made the initial contact wishes to make more use of it, says Ahimor, they must fortify the connection and transcend it beyond the virtual world. Doing so requires trust, value, and the development of an ongoing relationship. “A direct relationship between people can never be replaced. Such a relationship can only be reached by a long-lasting, direct communication.”