May 10, 2006

Israeli entrepreneur fulfilling lifelong dream of doctoral degree through Weatherhead School of Management program

IT expert Jimmy Schwarzkopf makes commute every three weeks from Israel to Cleveland

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Chaim "Jimmy" Schwarzkopf no longer wants to be the only "mister" in a family of "doctors"—which helps explain why he is willing to travel from Israel to Cleveland every three weeks for three years.

Schwarzkopf is one of a handful of students from around the world admitted each year to a unique doctoral-level program at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management—the Executive Doctor of Management (EDM). The intensive three-year degree, designed for senior-level executives, integrates the study of theory and practice in the context of global issues. Students come to the Weatherhead School six times each semester, staying in touch and completing assignments via email the rest of the time. Schwarzkopf recently completed the second year of the program.

Back in Israel, Schwarzkopf heads STKI, an information technology research and consulting firm. He started the company in 2005 after another company he founded, Meta Group Israel, was acquired by an international IT consulting firm. He also teaches at the Israel Defense Forces computer school and at Be'er Sheva's Ben Gurion University. So where does he find the time to complete class assignments and commute to and from Cleveland?

"If you ask my wife, she will tell you I do it by not sleeping and doing a lot of things around the house," he laughs. "I'm up every day at 4 a.m. But in truth I always feel I'm behind, behind at work, behind at home, behind here. But here I am, finishing my second year.

"I'm very, very lucky in that my wife has been extremely supportive," he adds. "It's very difficult to be in a relationship and suddenly find yourself pretty much alone for two years. She can't talk to me because I'm doing something or on my way to do something or flying back and forth."

The decision to enroll in the EDM program grew partly from a gnawing sense of something left unfinished from his youth. After earning bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering from the University of Central Florida in the 1970s, he began but did not complete a doctoral degree from Carnegie Mellon University. "It was a little scar, that every once in a while would get opened," he explains. "My sons used to tease me that when somebody called our home and asked for 'Mr. Schwarzkopf' there was only one." (One son has a Ph.D., the other an M.D. His father also has a Ph.D.)

He began researching doctoral programs in the U.S. and Israel and stumbled upon an advertisement for the EDM in the magazine The Economist. During the application process he began to see how different the program is. "I got a call from (former program director) John Aram who told me 'You have to fly here to be interviewed.' I asked why, since he could interview me on the telephone. He said, 'If you don't have the patience and the will to come here for an interview, forget about it.' It made me realize this was really something unusual."

Having studied towards a doctorate previously, Schwarzkopf has been able to contrast the EDM program with others. "In a normal Ph.D. program the professors are there and the students come to class and no one is holding your hand," he says. "Here, when I miss a homework assignment I get a call saying 'I was expecting your assignment three hours ago. Where is it?'" No one forgives you anything. It makes me proud of where I am now, but if people had told me two years ago that I'd be on this quest I would have said they were crazy. It's not just the money and the time, it's changed the way I see things."

The commute between his home on the B'nai Zion Moshav and Cleveland is made a little less strenuous by the fortuitous timing of flights and the seven-hour time difference. After working a full day on Thursday he catches an 11 p.m. flight on which he sleeps until arriving in Newark at 4 a.m. A 6 a.m. flight from Newark to Cleveland gets him to classes soon after they begin. "In two years I've never been more than 40 minutes late," he says.

Most of Schwarzkopf's research and writing in the program have focused on the current entrepreneurial environment in Israel. "It's given me a completely new perspective on my country, because although I've been part of the entrepreneurship environment myself I'd never really looked at it. I've been an actor, and now it feels like I'm a director. And it's extremely exciting."

The Case Western Reserve University Weatherhead School of Management is an international center of management scholarship, committed to preparing and enhancing organizational leadership. The Weatherhead School is dedicated to making discoveries of enduring consequence, developing innovative educational programs, fostering strategic partnerships with students and organizations, and providing services to multiple communities.

For more information: Jeff Bendix 216-368-6070.

Posted by: Heidi Cool, May 10, 2006 11:10 AM | News Topics: Weatherhead School of Management

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