Seen and Heard: World-Class Speakers at TAU

Tel Aviv University welcomed a number of prominent speakers.

19 July 2023

Rounding out the academic year, Tel Aviv University (TAU) welcomed a number of prominent speakers, such as OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, Nobel Laureate Olga Tokarczuk, and Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz (just ahead of the release of the Barbie movie!). Below are takeaways from some of these recent talks on campus.


Sam Altman, CEO of Open AI

Witnessing the remarkable ascent of ChatGPT during the course of my MBA and finding new ways to apply AI to business has been such a unique and exciting experience. Finishing the year by hearing from Sam Altman himself about AI and the place it has in shaping our future was an inspiring moment, especially as I am now about to enter the professional world.

-Daphne Cavanaugh, student, TAU Sofaer Global MBA 



Olga Tokarczuk, Nobel Laureate, author and social activist



Olga Tokarczuk’s talk in front of our students was probably the highlight of the past academic year … Olga talked about the challenges of writing fiction in the 21st century – when it sometimes seems that old ways of narrating a story are no longer adequate to the world we live in – and about the perils of some tendencies in world literature, for example the focus on writing “the self” (memoir and autofiction). Her plea, to find new imaginative ways to write about the world in all its richness and complexities, was thought-provoking and inspiring.

-Dror Mishani, crime writer and lecturer in TAU’s Department of Literature



Ynon Kreiz, CEO of Mattel

View the full talk here



One thing he said was by the time he was graduating from his masters, on the verge of being 30 years old, the longest job he had held prior was as a windsurfing instructor for one year. It really goes to show that, even though students might be older by the time they graduate, they still have years to work their way towards a position that is meaningful to them. He made me realize that time isn't the handicap I thought it was.

-Simone Lang, student, TAU School of Economics



Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation



‘Exceed the expectations,’ was, without a doubt, the most simple yet impactful idea that Mr. Katzenberg conveyed in his talk … Also, realizing his sense of duty for everything he gets involved in was the most admirable part of him as a person.

-Ipek Akyol, student, TAU Research Program in Life Sciences



Professor Antoine Compagnon, renowned French literature scholar



Compagnon is one of the most prominent professors of French literature … in the conference he presented on his most recent book Proust du côté juif … in the book he displays a brilliant erudition; what is so interesting is the meticulous reconstitution of French Jewish society at the time of Marcel Proust and, of course, he sheds some light into Proust’s masterpiece, À la recherche du temps perdu.

-Nadine Kuperty, TAU professor, French Language Literature



Professor Pavel Pevzner, world-leading researcher in bioinformatics



Prof. Pavel A. Pevzner, one of the world leaders in bioinformatics, was awarded an honorary doctorate from TAU … the Edmond J. Safra Center for Bioinformatics was honored to host Prof. Pevzner during his visit. He gave a talk titled “Bioinformatics challenges in complete genomics and metagenomics” … in his talk he described the exciting opportunities that arise in analyzing diverse genomic data, made possible by novel long-read sequencing techniques, and the achievements of his team in this domain.

-Ron Shamir, TAU Sackler bioinformatics professor and founder of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Bioinformatics  



Inon Maoz, founder of Abraham Hostels



No wonder Abraham Hostels stands out – having someone with such a firm vision and values spearheading it. Inon’s story of recovery after Covid, being in the hospitality industry, makes him an example to follow.

-Facundo Pereminsky, student, TAU Sofaer Global MBA


Cyber Week 2023

See list of speakers here.



During one of the presentations, a speaker made a great observation, in which he pointed out the fact that despite investing substantial amounts of money in security, it will never be enough to guarantee absolute safety. I think this is a great way to understand that we need to shift our approach to preventive actions rather than solely reacting to crises, even if it implies using the most advanced technology. 

-Daniel Canosa, student, TAU MA in Conflict Resolution & Mediation




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