Sy Syms Alumni Spotlight: Shira Leff Kreitman

By: Amalya Teitelbaum  |  October 21, 2021

By Amalya Teitelbaum, Business Editor & Manager, on behalf of the YU Observer

The YU Observer aims to not only share aspects of student life, but also to keep up with the activities of alumni in order to better connect current and past students. This month, the YU Observer interviewed Shira Leff Kreitman. Shira Leff Kreitman is a Sy Syms School of Business (SSSB) Graduate of 2015. She was a double major in Business Intelligence, Marketing Analytics (BIMA), and Marketing.

What made you decide to be in SSSB?

I was interested in studying something that would enable me to work right out of college, and I was interested in technology, data, and management, so BIMA was an obvious choice. I was in the first graduating class of the BIMA major! 

What was your favorite part of SSSB?

The classes having to do with data and its applications to business (e.g. SQL and Business Intelligence and Consumer Insight where I learned the basics of decision making using data (such as KNN and clustering) and how businesses make cheaper, more efficient, more strategic, and more profitable decisions based on the data of user behavior. 

Out of all your classes in SSSB, which do you believe impacted you the most?

Various classes impacted me but 1 stands out in my mind: The History of Financial Crises, by Dr. Hayim Levy, who is a professor of Economics at Ben Gurion University. I love history and the liberal arts and the class was a fascinating survey of the main financial crises of the last century. Combining the practical knowledge I was learning (e.g. finance, accounting, management) with my innate love of history was a truly enjoyable experience. I wish I can take that class again now as I would appreciate it even more.

As a postscript, Dr. Levy was at YU for that one semester (I believe it was Spring 2013) as a visiting professor from Ben Gurion University, in Be’er Sheva, Israel. I had before then never heard of this university, despite it being one of the largest academic institutions in Israel, and though I had spent a year in Israel, I had never been in Be’er Sheva and thought of it as a backwater with camels roaming around.

Fast-forward a few years and ironically I now actually live in Be’er Sheva (after having made aliyah) and took classes at Ben Gurion University. I’ve always thought that subconsciously I felt less inhibited and “scared” of Ben Gurion University and Beer Sheva because I was introduced to it years before through Dr. Levy.

As another postscript, Dr. Levy later published a book on the history of financial crises and he thanked my class for helping him develop his book. He even mentioned all of us by name in the credits! 

How did SSSB prepare you for your career?

BIMA was constructed to be a major at the intersection of business and technology (data) and from the time I graduated until today, I have worked at exactly the intersection of those fields. 

What do you do for a living?

I work as a conversion optimization (CRO) manager for a financial hi-tech company in Israel. 

What was the biggest transitional challenge you faced going from university to your career?

I was so lonely and felt so socially isolated after having been in the incredibly motivated, fast-paced, and smart environment of YU. I miss the environment to this day. 

How can one overcome the said challenge?

Mourn the loss of the environment you had – it’s a loss and moving on from it requires grieving. Give yourself space for that and embrace the grief, realize that many, if not most go through this after leaving the sheltered college environment (especially one like YU!). At the same time, be open to new relationships. If you are lucky to be in a healthy workplace environment, get to know your coworkers. The social aspect of your professional life can, to some degree, fill the social void of no longer being in the college environment. Be open to close relationships with coworkers dissimilar to you in profession and personality. Your social and intellectual life will be enlarged and enriched and these people may become your new very close confidantes, especially if they aren’t in your exact field or role – because then the issue of workplace politics doesn’t impact your relationship as much. 

If you could give one piece of advice to current SSSB students what would you say?

Go into a profession that jives with your natural skill set and talents. Don’t go into a career that you don’t enjoy (even if you are able to do it well) just because it is more prestigious, earns more money, or for other external reasons. The people I see who are happiest in their careers and who end up accomplishing are those who went into their careers because they felt a natural affinity for it. 

If you are a Sy Syms alumni or know someone who is, please fill out this form for the opportunity to be featured in our next edition.