This past week Israel marked the 73rd celebration of its independence. While COVID, vaccines, and social distancing highlighted this past year, it was hard to ignore Israel’s formidable tech ecosystem’s mammoth rise considering looming global crises. From mega funding rounds to massive valuations - birthing new Unicorns by the day, Israeli software and hardware companies look to continue making major strides in global business.
They come from around the world
A key reason behind the Israeli tech ecosystem’s graduation to the “big leagues”, as in many stories of communal success, lies with the people behind the companies, the CEOs, product managers, engineers, and financiers. These Israeli minds are minds sought after to captain major corporate ventures, lead massive scaling operations, and improve innovation efforts.
Israel’s professional society is a ‘melting pot’ composed of many different people from many different backgrounds. In a bold move, young and veteran Jewish professionals from around the globe choose to make “aliyah”, and immigrate to Israel; empowering the workforce with new professional practices and understandings. They bring different perspectives and corporate knowledge, allowing Israeli companies to be better prepared, and adapt to different business environments around the world.
With the celebrations behind us, let's hear from the perspective of professionals who made the move.
Eva Nachmias moved to Israel from France in 2011 knowing she wanted to integrate into Israeli society as much and as quickly as possible. Starting at one of the leading engineering universities in the world helped a lot in propelling her to the next stage of her career, working for a multinational software giant: “I tried to communicate mostly in Hebrew and I built a circle of Israelis around me. Studying at the Technion and later working in the Israeli high-tech market, and specifically being part of SAP's development center in Israel, certainly contributed and I’m glad I can call myself an Israeli thanks to that.”
Working as a developer for SAP, Eva also expanded on the corporate culture in Israel, noting what she saw as a major advantage: “I feel the team work here is a big part of the corporate culture, especially at SAP I really feel part of something bigger than just programming a tech solution.” Nachmias also added that even though growing up in France, she had always felt strong ties to Israel through her family and the culture, but still had to be schooled in the Israeli “Chutzpah”: “Part of being Israeli is being direct, and I think this is super important especially in the professional fields.”
"Israelis sometimes feel like they go by the day”
The move to Israel for these professionals is not just a childhood dream fulfilled or a professional goal achieved, but a mixture of both. It’s a mission for many, to not only be part of a roaring tech ecosystem, but help sculpt its future. Just like David Debash who arrived in Israel from Italy in 2017. After finishing his schooling at The Technion and Imperial College, David has injected himself into the heart of the Israeli startup ecosystem as COO and Partner at 365x Scale-Up program and Sarona Partners, where he is “ Building from nothing an ecosystem of 400+ people dedicating their time to Israeli companies and 5 programs bringing 120 startups to work with us every year.”
David, who studied and worked in Europe, said that the educational background and culture are immensely different from Israel: “Europeans are much more polite and loving of protocols - here it's always to the point… Europeans are much more structured and organized in their way of working, while Israelis sometimes feel like they go by the day.”
The Israeli way of business may sometimes seem off the cuff, but David applauds its versatility and flexibility: “Israeli tech? If you don’t manage to get something, try again and deeper, there is always a way. Everything is negotiable”. He went on to add that he “managed to learn how both sides work and get along with both,” and that his corporate knowledge of European protocols and languages paired with his Israeli diligence has provided an advantage not just for him but the people and the company around him.
"Not let any challenges... get in the way of achieving the ultimate goal"
Immigrating from the U.S. in 2018, Jarred Feder agreed that Israeli companies operate a little differently: “Israeli companies think more out of the box and have the ability to come up with more innovative solutions.” After graduating with honors from George Washington University - School of Business, Jared lived the NYC stock trader life before moving to Israel and integrating into Tadiran, an Israeli electronics conglomerate, as a Manager of International Business Development.
Much like David and Eva, Jarred pulls from his dual culture experience to provide an edge, harnessing from his origin: “The ability to keep an open mind, listen to others, and always be aware and sensitive to what others are thinking and feeling,” while arming his future with perspective he picked up in Israel: “To go with the flow and not let any challenges or small interferences impact or get in the way of achieving the ultimate goal.”
"Fight against COVID"
Finally, we arrive at the veteran of the group, Ephraim Heiliczer, who moved to Israel in 1999 to build a life and family, and has helped advance the Israeli tech ecosystem through his extended “knowledge of US law and patent procedure.” Ephraim, a partner at Intellectual Property Group - Pearl Cohen, has seen his fair share of groundbreaking Israeli companies. From his perspective, Israelis are elite at adapting to new conditions. As for example, he added that he’d “seen this adaptivity at work in the past year, during which Israeli companies repurposed inventions for use in the fight against COVID.”
This just shows how private firms had put the “Israeli” before the “company” at a time when they were needed most, and how innovation had helped lead to the current semi-emergence from pandemic reality. Just as Ephraim stated at the end: “Being an Israeli has taught me tenacity and the ability to overcome difficult obstacles,” which is a key factor looking forward as Israeli tech will continue to derive its flexibility, adaptability, and tenacity from the brilliant minds that mold it.