Yaniv Kusevitzky

Image of alumnus Yaniv Kusevitzky.
Country / region
Dean's Award for Enterprise Scholarship

Yaniv studied Sport Business and Innovation MSc as part of the 2016-17 cohort.

Yaniv now works for The Israel Sport and Education Initiative (ISEI), an Israeli non-profit NGO, as Direcory of Finance and Partnerships.

Tell us about your career journey so far.

I was a helicopter pilot for 10 years, but I decided to change career and take a journey to search for my passion (career-wise). I moved to London after my partner was accepted onto her master's studies, and in the first two years I worked as an Operational Manager in Amazon and a Project Manager in a small start-up - both were good experiences, but didn't give me the passion I was looking for.

Around this time, a friend sent me a link with information about the Sport Business and Innovation master's programme and that was the first time I felt excited about a possible work field. After some research into options for such studies in London, I was lucky enough to get accepted into Loughborough University London. During my studies, I received an offer to join a very early stage start-up, PlayerMaker, which was developing a new technology of measuring and providing performance data for football players.

I did market research, focus groups and initiated contact with a few football clubs in London. Once the product was ready I managed the first pilots and 'market-product fit' process. I left the company after two years (as a family decision to move back to Israel) having a team of 5 people and over 20 clubs using the product in the UK and around the world!

In Israel, I decided to move from the private sector to the social sector and wanted to use the knowledge of sport for social impact that I'd gained in London. I was lucky to find the opportunity to join the The Israel Sport & Education Initiative which is the biggest organisation in Israel for using sport as tool to bridge social educational gaps in Israel's society.

Can you tell us more about the organisation you are currently working for?

The Israel Sports & Education Initiative (ISEI) is an Israeli non-profit NGO, which aspires to bridge educational, economic and social gaps in the Israeli society, by providing sportive-educational after-school programmes to youth in the social periphery, minority areas and areas of need. These programmes use the power of sport to increase the educational level of participants, and to instil critical life skills and values such as tolerance, co-existence, mutual responsibility and more.

Our programmes operate in areas where children and youth do not have (or have a very limited range of) a positive after-school activity. By providing a high level of an after school activity, not only do we take the youth out of the streets, but we also help them develop critical life skills and provide positive role models (coaches, volunteers). Moreover, the schools, who know the children well, are choosing the participants of the teams based on personal needs of each participant (i.e. children with financial, social or behavioural difficulties).

We operate three programmes:

  • THE EQUALIZER: a social-educational-sportive programme for boys and girls, which combines soccer practices and tournaments with academic assistance and value-based activities, aiming to promote equal opportunities, co-existence, empowerment and social mobility. Participants have weekly soccer training sessions with a professional coach and regional tournaments where they get to meet and play against children from other communities. More importantly, the participants, who are passionate about playing soccer, are required to participate in weekly sessions of study centers, run by our volunteers, who deliver an ongoing educational programme and support in school studies.
  • BOATOT: a social-educational-sportive programme based on the model of 'The Equalizer', but with a focus on girls' participation. The programme operates soccer teams for girls only, combined with an educational programme which is adjusted for females and include: female empowerment, increasing self-confidence and self-esteem, body image, sense of belonging, self-image, and more. The programme has a wide impact on gender equality progress both directly on participants and indirectly on their family and the community around them.
  • 48ERS: a social-educational-sportive project based on the same model, but for basketball teams. This programme combines basketball training sessions and tournaments with educational activities with the goal to instil core values and to develop leadership skills amongst youth from disadvantaged communities.

What do you love most about your current job?

  1. Meeting the kids from different communities and seeing their passion about sport.
  2. Going to our tournaments and see the diversity of religions, culture and backgrounds among the participants. To see the players showing values of respect and fair play during on and off the pitch and to see how they form relations during the tournament, is truely great.
  3. Building relationships with donors, philanthropic funds, municipalities and other partners who are all interested in the same idea of using the power of sport to bridge gaps and make a social impact.
  4. Working with people who share the same passion and values as I do.

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?

I don't have one moment - each experience had its proud moments along with difficult moments. If I was to name a few, these would be:

  • Pilot - Graduation day of the 3-years flight academy.
  • Amazon - Managing a team of 190 people and delivering over 200,000 packages in the busiest days of Christmas time.
  • Loughborough - Receiving a "yes" answer for the Dean's Award for Enterprise scholarship which allowed me to do my master's studies at Loughborough. My graduation was a great day with family who came over from Israel.
  • PlayerMaker - Finishing the first demo in a professional football club and receiving a buying offer from the club (our first customer!)
  • ISEI - winning a government tender which included doubling our budget and doubling our activity. The day we finished to successfully open 150 new teams (in less the 5 weeks) was another proud moment for me.

How has Loughborough University London inspired you and helped you to progress in your career?

Loughborough helped me in two ways:

  1. The studying experience - it was the best year I had in London. I enjoyed going to the University, to use the brand new facilities, to meet interesting people who share similar interest as me and to study subjects which I'm truly interested in. I also enjoyed the extra activities, lectures and events we had during the year. This year gave me a lot of energy and helped me believe that I could find the combination of work and passion in the sports field.
  2. From a study and career perspective, I've utilised much of the knowledge and skills I developed during the year. The ability to read, research and write in English was critical to my position at PlayerMaker. Also, the models related to innovation as PlayerMaker was an early stage start-up. In my current position, I use the knowledge from the different sport-related courses we had, mainly about understanding the many aspects that sport has beyond the actual time on the pitch. 

More than anything, my Loughborough experience opened my mind to the opportunities of working in the sports field and allowed me to focus my career desires. After many years of not knowing what my passion was and which field I want to work in, my Loughborough experience gave me a clear understanding about the career path I wanted to take. Now it's just a matter of waking that path and enjoying the journey.

Favourite module and why?

My favourite module was the Funding module, a very practical course which I used a lot in my time at PlayerMaker. I am using it now as well when trying to establish a 'business' department in our NGO (as a source of income).

Tell us about your most memorable experience on your course

  1. Visiting the West Ham FC Stadium - definitely a memorable moment.
  2. Presenting the Collaborative Project - after a challenging time of working on our product it was a good feeling to present the outcomes and to see that even though it was challenging and sometimes frustrating, at the end we were able to produce something we were proud of.

How did you fund your studies?

I was lucky to receive the Dean's Award for Enterprise scholarship which covered 90% of the fees. The other 10% I paid with my savings.