Lyron Bentovin has stayed connected to Yale SOM in a variety of different ways since his graduation, most recently in working with the NYC chapter. Mentoring is another important aspect of how Lyron gives back to the school, and below he shares how his nearly six year mentoring relationship with Dave Kaczorowski ’07 has grown throughout the years. For his part, Dave wishes more people would take advantage of the student/alumni mentoring program and credits Lyron with introducing him to many of the industry relationships he has and uses today.
“Being a part of Yale SOM has impacted my life and career in many ways, but I believe the most significant impact was in defining my leadership style. My time at SOM taught me that being a leader is more than just making the right decision, being a leader means you have to understand the perspectives of all the stakeholders and be in a position to interact and impact all of them, while making decisions that maximize the overall value. I have practiced this philosophy throughout my career.”
What have you been up to since Graduation (career, volunteer work, personally)?
After graduation in 1997, I worked for 3 years as a management consultant with the Mitchell Madison Group (a Mckinsey spin-off). I believe management consulting is the perfect job coming out of business school. I got a chance to lead engagement teams solving challenging business problems in multiple industries and gain experiences I wouldn’t otherwise have access to. In 2000, I started working on an idea I developed to create physical retail presence for online brands. I joined up with a very talented team (including two SOM class mates) and together we raised the first round of financing, though unfortunately after the dot com bust in 2001, it was virtually impossible to raise the next round of financing and I had to shut the company down and move on. In late 2001, I saw significant opportunity to invest in small public companies that were “thrown out with the bath water” in the aftermath of the dot com bust. I formed a Hedge fund with a partner and for the next 7 years we looked for “under the radar” small cap opportunities. While investing in these small companies I started spending more time working and advising our portfolio CEOs. Over time, as I got more and more involved with these companies I got invited to serve on their boards and over the years I got to serve on multiple public and private company boards. In 2009, one of the companies I was on the board of went through a management transition and I was asked by the board to help the new CEO turn around the business as the company’s COO and CFO, a position I held until 2012. I am currently in the final stages of joining a boutique Investment bank as a partner with the intent of helping small public and private companies strategically position themselves for a successful exit. On a personal note, I am married to a Yale Law School Alum (met at Yale) and have two teenagers at home.
How/Why do you stay engaged with SOM as an alum?
Over the years I have stayed connected with SOM in a variety of ways, I have interviewed candidates, was a mentor and advisor to many students over the years, I hired SOM students for summer internships and I was an evaluator and coach for the Nonprofit business plan competition for multiple years. Whenever SOM representatives came to visit San Francisco (and now New York) I try and participate in meetings whenever I can.
Why did you get involved with the mentoring program and how has your relationship with your mentee evolved over the past few years?
The mentoring program did not exist when I was at SOM, so when I heard about it I thought it was an excellent addition to the program and I immediately signed up. My first mentee was Dave Kaczorowski ‘07, then a second year student. I initially worked with Dave on his full time job search giving him advice, reviewing his materials, and helping to prepare him for interviews. When Dave moved to the Bay Area, we started getting together on a regular basis and over the years our relationship evolved from a mentor/mentee relationship to being friends. I have since moved to New Jersey, but Dave and I still meet when I visit San Francisco and we communicate regularly by Skype and phone.
If you could tell a current Yale SOM student one thing, what would it be?
You will never get to experience so many smart people with so many diverse perspectives and experiences. Get to know your classmates, on and off campus, and you will get your true SOM education and make friends for life.
What excites you the most about the changes happening around SOM?
There are so many exciting developments at SOM, but for me the most exciting development is the new integrated curriculum. I believe the integrated curriculum puts SOM at the forefront of global business education, giving the students a chance to see that what they learn in the classroom applies to the real world.