My name is Shiran Vaknin. I am a second year Accounting PhD student at Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. I am also an ISEF international fellow.

Prior to Duke, I was a researcher at a couple of think tanks in Israel, The Kohelet Policy Forum and The Institute for Structural Reforms. The primary goal of these institutes is to improve the economy of Israel through research. I researched the import quotas and tariffs policy, and social privatization of government owned firms. I advised to the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Agriculture and I was a frequent speaker at the Finance Committee meetings at the Knesset (Israel‘s parliament).

Following my desire to make a change through research, I joined the Fellows Program at the Milken Innovation Center. The program promotes long-term strategic decision-making, by placing outstanding university graduates in government ministries. I was placed at the Israel Tax Authority, researching tax incentive models for social investments and affordable housing. The implications of my published research directly affected current and future governmental decisions on these issues, since the Tax Authority has made policy recommendations based on my proposals.

Concurrent to my work as a researcher and adviser, I have actively pursued opportunities to teach, both as a lecturer and as a teaching assistant. Teaching enables me to interact and share ideas with students, and fills me with satisfaction when I successfully convey complex ideas to them. I was a lecturer and teacher assistant in economics at the Ben-Gurion University of The Negev, The College of Management and Ashkelon Academic College.

For my Masters’ thesis, I chose the topic of sovereign debt markets because it is a macroeconomic issue with momentous real-world significance, as the creditworthiness of a nation directly impacts the lives of its citizens. My research questioned whether big ratings agencies have become more conservative over the past two decades.

In high school, I was offered a scholarship in the Honors Program at the Open University, studying economics once a week after school. The program made it possible to start my B.A. in Economics and Management at a very early age. Through this challenging and rewarding program, I came to see studying as a privilege, greatly enhancing my self-discipline and ability to study independently.

After high school, I began my mandatory military service at the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as a Behavioral Science Analyst, responsible for analyzing soldiers and assigning them to roles that would best suit their abilities. Soon after, I was accepted to the selective Officers’ Course, becoming a Human Resource Officer, tasked with recruiting soldiers and officers for a new division. In that capacity, I commanded a unit of ten, gaining tremendous management experience under demanding and stressful circumstances.

My personal experience, from early childhood, throughout high school, military service, academic
studies, and in my current studies and fellowship, have all steered me toward pursuing a PhD, not only to increase the depth and breadth of my knowledge, but also to prepare for a future as a professor.