Dr. Joav Avtalion: From NICE to Michal Negrin – a Philosophical Journey

When Joav Avtalion – one of Israel’s most prominent high-tech leaders – decided to step off the fast track to study philosophy at Bar-Ilan, it may have raised some eyebrows. But according to Avtalion – co-founder and senior technology executive of NICE Systems, a market-leading enterprise and security solutions company, as well as the driving force behind a number of other successful business ventures – the link between the mind, the spirit, and human behavior has intrigued him from the very beginning.


“As an undergraduate, I studied physics, mathematics and biology and planned on a career in brain research,” says Avtalion, who holds an MBA from Tel Aviv University and completed his doctorate under the supervision of BIU’s Dr. Avraham Elqayam and Prof. Binyamin Abrahamov in 2011. “But I also recognized how philosophy could help me understand the basis of behavior. After 13 years at NICE and subsequent executive positions at other companies, I look upon my time at Bar-Ilan as one of the best periods of my life.”


Today, Avtalion lives in Palma de Mallorca, the capital of the Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain. In addition to bringing Israeli commerce to his adopted home – through his ownership of a franchise for stores that sell the work of Israeli jewelry designer Michal Negrin – Avtalion provides individual and group coaching services that draw on his life experience, as well as his philosophical training.


“We know that no body can function without having a healthy spirit, and at some point we all have to ask ourselves: why do we exist?” Avtalion asserts, adding that study of the humanities – like the study that he took upon himself at Bar-Ilan – is of utmost importance for a healthy society. “Even if universities cannot supply all the answers, they must continue to provide a place for students – like me – to keep asking questions.”