Home Blog Meet Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship: Mark Finkel, JD, MBA

Meet Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship: Mark Finkel, JD, MBA

May 13, 2022
Mark Finkel, JD, MBA: YU Syms MBA Program Director

The faculty that make up Yeshiva University’s Sy Syms School of Business set both the on-ground and online business programs apart. Bringing years of experience at leading corporations and successful start-up ventures, our faculty members infuse their courses with invaluable real-world experience. Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship Mark Finkel is one of our esteemed faculty members who brings his past experience to his students.

“Having a background in business, and having had the opportunity to scale businesses, I’m able to bring my students real world experience,” he says.

Professor Finkel is perhaps a bit too modest about his background in business, having more than 25 years of experience working with early-stage entrepreneurial enterprises in Silicon Valley and around the world. See what he brings to his students at Syms.

Entrepreneurship Rooted in Mentorship and Humanitarian Efforts

Professor Finkel not only works as a faculty member at Yeshiva University, but he is, at present, president of the Emerging Growth Group, chief strategy officer of Softworks AI and a member of numerous boards.

Emerging Growth Group provides education and solutions for emerging entrepreneurs. Professor Finkel puts his past experience to use helping clients scale their businesses through strategic and tactical approaches. In this role, he has worked with over 25 growing companies to refine and operationalize go-to-market strategies, set up U.S. operations for European or Israeli companies, develop key metrics and much more.

Mentoring is a key component of Professor Finkel’s work. “I think I’ve always been enthusiastic about being the kind of business executive who wanted to mentor the people working for me. I wanted to help them grow,” he said. “Everybody around me said, ‘Mark, you were born to be a teacher.’ So when the opportunity to teach at Yeshiva University arose, I jumped at it.”

On top of all his work and involvements, Professor Finkel focuses on work that will better humanity and carries this into his work with students.

“Core to our Jewish values that we try to inculcate into the core curriculum is that, in making decisions, we need to be sensitive and indeed driven by benefitting a broader base of humanity than just shareholders,” he said. “That's why it is important for us that the first course students take is in leadership from a moral and ethical perspective. The course, Leadership and Emotional and Moral Intelligence, teaches students to consider other people and societal needs and values into account as well.”

Living out his words, Professor Finkel is chairman and co-founder of CharityChoice Gift Cards, which is a project for Special Kids Fund, a non-profit umbrella organization funding projects to benefit special needs children. Professor Finkel developed the concept of the charitable gift card, which is a new category of gift card that is tax-deductible and allows the recipient to donate funds to a charity of their choosing.

Bringing the Entrepreneurial Spirit to Yeshiva University Syms

At Yeshiva University, Professor Finkel uses his wealth of knowledge to help students understand what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, and how to apply the necessary skills and concepts learned in their coursework to their work beyond the classroom.

“What we really try to do for the Syms MBA program is first give students a really broad foundation—the essentials business—from data to marketing to accounting. We enable them to be confident using those languages in business,” he said.

Professor Finkel is especially interested in teaching on the management skills needed to scale an entrepreneurial venture through its growth phases. He also teaches students how to understand the characteristics of the products or services offered by an early stage enterprise that are more likely to lead to success as a business executive.

“For me, the difference between a decent manager and a great executive is being able to see business problems from multiple functional areas—from the marketing side, from the accounting side, from the sales side, from the operation side. And by bringing all those together, it helps them get a really good vision of how to formulate strategy and how to execute that strategy,” he said. “So I think my having been in business, my having seen the value of having a broad-based approach, has helped form our curriculum so that students come out with a really balanced approach and real confidence in being able to apply concepts from across functional areas in the business world.”

Professor Finkel has seen students in the MBA program advance their careers before even receiving their diplomas, which speaks to the strength of the curriculum and its application to real world situations. “Students are able to bring concepts and vocabularies to meetings that are often outside of the specific tasks they’re working on. People around take note of this and realize that they can bring a broader base of skills to the organization. As a result, quite a number of our students get promoted within their organization in the midst of their MBA studies.”

Earn Your Master’s With the Benefits of an Online Education

Professor Finkel had a hand in developing the online MBA program and is proud of how the technology has been put to use to give students a high-quality experience.

“What we’ve tried to do at Syms is use the technology to optimize the learning process. There’s some great things you can do with technology that you can’t do in person, like allowing people to be self paced or allowing a really broad amount of resources to be available to students so there’s no limit to how much they want to learn,” he said. “I think we’ve done a good job of leveraging the technology to really make it a much better educational experience than would be possible in person. So I'm very proud of what we developed and the students are gaining tremendously from it.”

Wondering if an online program is a good fit for you? Professor Finkel shared his thoughts on how students can benefit from the online environment.

“For those students who might be nervous about entering a program where there isn’t the in person experience, please be reassured that you will come out of the program with very close relationships with your fellow students,” he noted. “You will certainly have live sessions with your professors. We do a lot of team projects in the program where you're doing live project work with your fellow students.”

To learn more about the online MBA program and all of the online master’s programs at Yeshiva University Sy Syms, including the online Master of Science in Accounting and the online Master of Science in Real Estate, visit our website or schedule a call with an Admissions Advisor.