Meeting Michael Milken or “How to Make a Good Intro”

Milken Fellows

It is 7 in the morning and you know you are heading three busy days of meeting a lot pf people, being exposed to new ideas and absorbing a lot of information. Which would you rather – staying in bed for few more minutes (and obviously telling yourself you really need these extra minutes) or getting the chance for a short session with Michael Milken?

Before I write about the obvious answer to that question (go to the meeting!), let me share a bit about our experience at 7 am on the first morning of the three-day 2017 Milken Global Conference (truth should be told – we got there much earlier, anxious to be on time).

When we got to the conference room in The Beverly Hilton hotel we met the IFC-MI (International Finance Corporation and the Milken Institute) fellow program who also joined the meeting. The IFC-MI program recruits talented professionals from the public sector in various countries in Africa to an eight-month program which includes a semester at George Washington University and an internship in the American financial sector – public and private sectors alike. The IFC program aims to empower the fellows and supply efficient tools that the fellows can use in the future when they get back to their countries.

After a quick chat with the fellows over (strong) coffee, we met Michael Milken, the head of the Milken Institute.

Milken Innovation Center fellow Alex Kleiner meeting Michael Milken during the conference, in a less formal way

Given Michael Milken’s vast knowledge and experience in both the financial world and in philanthropy, the chance to meet him, especially as a fellow in the Milken Innovation Center, was a great honor. Yet, I believe the main impact of his remarks and the questions he addressed to us was actually that, in a way, these remarks and questions encapsulated the whole meaning of the Milken Global Conference.

First, by getting to know us as fellows and the work wo do in Israel and Africa, Milken emphasized the diversity of the people which made me acknowledge the opportunity we had to become familiarized with different worlds. Second, Milken shared with us his insights about various topics – from Africa, to transportation in the future, to finance and Big Data. Each topic opens a whole world of its own.

For me, this session was a great introduce the three days to come – people from around the world sharing their perspectives, knowledge and new ideas. We needed to be ready because there was a lot to absorb.

In the end of the session Milken gave us his take on what the conference is all about. To sum his comments up, it was a few ideas about how to make the best of participating in the conference. First, be eager to learn and be curious. During the conference, the diversity of experienced people and disruptive knowledge are all around you so you just need to open up to it. Second, it does not end in the conference. Participating in the conference is just the beginning for further work. As a fellow in the Ministry of Finance, I am looking to find ways to increase the export of Israeli technology to developing countries. As Milken advised us, after the conference the focus of my work is both on finding creative solutions to various problems, and in so doing, bringing more people to the table so they can bring with them new and innovative ideas.

Obviously, during the conference I learned a lot of things. From this first session, I learned at least one thing – how to make a great intro.


Netanel Kahana
A 2016-2017 fellow, Kahana interns in the Accountant General's Department at the Ministry of Finance. Prior to joining the program, he worked in the Corporate Finance Division in the Israel Securities Authority, first as a Legal intern and later on as...
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