Lior Yafe
Lior Yafe, Head of the Economic and Trade Mission of the State of Israel to Mexico

Lior Yafe is a seasoned public service professional currently serving as the Head of the Economic and Trade Mission of the State of Israel to Mexico. Having recently completed Delivering Public Services: Efficiency, Equity, and Quality, Lior shares his reasons for attending a Harvard executive program and why it was such a transformative learning and networking experience.

What inspired you to participate in a Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education program?
Generally speaking, I wanted to expand my professional toolkit and equip myself with the knowledge needed to solve any future problems I may encounter. More specifically, I wanted to gain the skills to overcome an operational challenge I was currently facing in the area of human resources management and to learn how to optimize the measurement aspects of my organization’s commercial office activities more effectively. Both of these goals were definitely achieved by participating in Delivering Public Services.

The program exposed me in a comparative way to the many different issues that exist globally in the public sector. It connected me to professionals from an array of disciplines who were willing to openly share their own unique service challenges as well as their diverse points-of-view on challenges common to us all. Above all, the program explored a vast array of ideas about the future of civil service and how we can provide it in a more efficient, equitable, and innovative way. 

Also worth noting were the significant contributions and open-door policy of Faculty Chair Mark Fagan, who generously gave of his time and expertise to help solve the individual challenges of each program participant. 

How are you implementing the learnings from your program in your organization?
Using the indirect method we explored during Delivering Public Services, I gathered insights from other operational challenges within my organization and presented those at the world economic attaché conference in Jerusalem. After receiving excellent feedback from my colleagues, I then made adjustments to my findings to make them more relevant to the strategic work Israel's economic attachés are executing all around the world.

I also keep in touch with several of my fellow learners and closely follow the academic work of Professor Fagan. This allows me to keep up with the latest research in the sector, exchange opinions with my peers about updated topics, and exposes me to new global reforms.

How would you describe the value of participating in an HKS Executive Education program to someone who is considering it?
It is vital that every professional, especially those working in public service, have a thorough understanding of the most current practices within the sector and a comparison of their work versus that of their international counterparts. We often rush back into our daily jobs after completing academic studies without ever taking a moment to view things holistically. This is exactly what Delivering Public Services provided. The experience made me stop, think, reflect and re-examine basic conventions that I often take for granted. The result, I believe, will be the delivery of better quality, more efficient public services. 

Another advantage of HKS Executive Education is the practical aspect of your studies. For example, when learning about a specific reform, you are not only exposed to it academically in the classroom, but you can discuss it directly with the senior government official who led or currently manages the reform. 

Finally, the networking opportunities are invaluable. The diverse cohort and their broad perspectives provide you with a panoramic view of so many different aspects of public service provision.

What do you hope to accomplish professionally in the future? 
After completing my exec ed program, I became hungry for more academic studies that are also practical so that I can become a better civil servant in the future. Therefore, I am now considering pursuing a Harvard Mid-Career Masters in Public Administration.

After that, I plan to continue working at the Ministry of Economy and Industry in Jerusalem, eventually departing again for an economic diplomatic mission where I can make the greatest impact.