"There is always a certain charm to exploring nature, trying to understand how the world works," says Dr. Guy Levy-Yurista. He was fortunate enough to grow up close to the Weizmann Institute of Science, where the many youth activities that the Institute had to offer were within easy reach, nurturing his fascination with physics and mathematics, and helping him to discover the fun of science.
This early stimulating environment helped sow the seeds of academic success. Guy was accepted to a unique army undergraduate program, Talpiot – one of the most rigorous undergraduate programs in the world – at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and he later pursued a master's degree at Tel Aviv University.
For Guy, the next step was obvious: to study for a Ph.D. Because wine tasting has always been a prominent hobby of Guy's – he was editor of the Israeli Wine and Gourmet magazine from 1998 to 2002, and is now President of the Wharton EMBA 32 East Wine Club – he thought about doing a Ph.D. in France. "I even took several French language courses in preparation!"
But Guy's adviser at Tel Aviv University pointed him in the direction of Prof. Asher Friesem of the Weizmann Institute of Science's Physics of Complex Systems Department. "The research that I would be conducting at the Weizmann Institute sounded much more interesting and fun, and the wine scene in Israel was becoming more and more exciting, so I decided to accept."
Guy's research at the Institute focused on advanced optical communication elements for potential use in optical communication networks. "I even kept the lab temperature low so that I could keep my wine collection under my optical bench! It was the safest place I had, as I was still renting at the time." Guy went on to graduate in 2001 with a Ph.D. in applied physics.
As a result of his research, Yeda Ltd. – the commercial arm of the Institute – helped establish a start-up company, GWS Photonics, in the U.S., their products having been under development at the Weizmann Institute for the previous ten years.
"The Institute really played a shaping role throughout my life, both as a child and as an adult. Thanks to the Weizmann Institute, I have gained a breadth and depth of thinking that enables me to dive into details as well as seeing the big picture.
"The Weizmann Institute is all about getting research done for the greater good of science. All the scientists were so dedicated, both to their research and to each other, supporting each other and putting aside their own work to help others first. I really admired that."
Guy currently lives in the U.S. and has been working at America Online (AOL) as a principal product manager for the past three years. He has led product teams in reshaping AOL's Internet safety and security strategy, becoming an expert in the fields of spyware, viruses, phishing and I.D. theft, supporting a near $100-million total in marketing campaigns. He has managed full product cycles, from inception to definition, development, testing, launch, maintenance and discontinuation, that support over 15 million users.
Guy is also in the midst of doing a fourth degree – an MBA from the Program for Executives at the highly acclaimed Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania.
"Science," says Guy, "is most exciting and gratifying, but it doesn't have to stop at academia. A background in science can really help carry business into new realms."