UBC Reports | Vol. 49 | No. 5 | May
Former Israeli Combat Commander Finds New Start in Vancouver
For commerce grad, teamwork is a transferable skill.
By Erica Smishek
Five years as an officer in the Israeli Defense Force taught
Nir Kushnir valuable lessons about teamwork, lessons that
have served him well as a Commerce student and a future business
In the military, you really learn how to work in teams
and how to develop your interpersonal skills, says Kushnir,
who will graduate with a BCom in Management Information Systems.
The power and control are not coming from your rank
but who you are and your ability to lead and motivate and
interact with people.
At age 18, all Israelis must complete a three-year stint
in the Defense Force. Kushnir served two additional years
and commanded an 80-person combat unit, but says that he,
like most Israelis, does not view the military as a profession.
You do the best you can, he explains. I
knew I had to participate so I took part with my moral standards.
You can influence people and make sure what you believe in
Born in Tel Aviv, the affable and assured 29-year-old attended
business school part time and worked in marketing and telecommunications
before deciding to pursue a degree at UBC. He visited Vancouver
in May 2001, met with International Student Recruitment and
Advising, wrote the Test of English as a Foreign Language
(TOEFL), and returned in August once accepted.
Kushnir relied on collaboration to meet the challenges of
being an older student in a very competitive faculty.
Teamwork is huge. You have to rely on your friends.
I really tried to help other people on the team to achieve
synergy. If you try to do everything yourself, you wont
In addition to Commerce courses, he studied political science
and history to gain some balance and perspective.
University is a great place to learn to tolerate other
positions, he says. And it is a great place to
meet people from all over the world. I met some Palestinians
and had academic discussions of everyday problems that affect
In Israel, you dont learn history from an objective
point of view. You cant take a step back. Here, people
still have emotions and problems but you can listen to people
analyze things and get a different perspective. It changes
Kushnir, now an avid snowboarder and long distance runner
(he participated in this years Vancouver Marathon),
is currently exploring job opportunities with a large private
company in the Lower Mainland.
It is easy to start your life here. Vancouver is a
multicultural place. People you meet have all come here from
elsewhere. I see opportunity for work and my career.