“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I was sitting in my tank in Gaza, a week before leaving Israel for HBS. Instead of having farewells from friends and family, I went to war. As a captain in the IDF, this wasn't my first encounter with battle. But this time was different. This time, I was afraid – afraid to die, afraid to leave my wife behind, afraid for the lives of my soldiersbrave reservists who dropped everything and went head-on to war. But most of all, I was afraid to die early; I felt I had so many things to accomplish. With the nearby explosions, that philosophical thought evaporated, and I started yelling commands on the radio.

Fast-forward 6 months. I am working with a group of Arabs and Israelis on a conference promoting peace through economic cooperation. After the conference, I grabbed a beer with Sari, a Palestinian entrepreneur from the West Bank. All my previous encounters with Palestinians were on the battlefield. But this time was different. Together, we envisioned business models of joint Israeli-Palestinian companies. No politics; just people caught on opposing sides of a political disaster, dreaming of helping their communities through innovation. 

Having gone to war, I have seen firsthand the devastation that might occur when politicians are at an impasse. I believe it's the responsibility of business leaders to step up and promote prosperity for their communities, where governments struggle to do so. I will work to bridge conflict through innovation and economic cooperation.

— Oded Eran