"Israel is Getting it Right"

Mel Klein of Stewart/Laurence Associates argues that a recent article about recruitment of overseas executives by Israeli companies gave a distorted picture of over-aggression and unethical practices. "The tenacity of the Israeli entrepreneur has brought Israel from third world obscurity to world leadership," he says.

Stewart/Laurence Associates, Inc., an international search firm, strongly disagrees with the perspective put forth by Intersearch the other week in Aviva Rosen's article "Why are Israeli's in Such a Rush?". In our opinion, it is a negative and arbitrarily unsophisticated view of Israeli high technology and work ethics.

Obviously Messrs. Siegel and Donoso, both senior executives of Intersearch, are clueless as to the phenomenal growth and accomplishment of Israeli technology. We have been working with Israeli start-up companies for over twenty years. The tenacity and ingenuity of the Israeli entrepreneur has brought Israel up from third world obscurity to one of the foremost leaders on the world wide high technology map, second only to Silicon Valley. It is precisely these attributes that those of little knowledge and understanding would suppress.

We too are an international search firm specializing in Israeli high technology. However, we see things from an entirely different point of view. It is up to the recruiter, i.e. headhunter, to bridge any cultural gap that may exist between a company and prospective employee.

We see no objection to Israeli companies seeking guidance and support from more than one search firm. In the interest of free enterprise and within the framework of a capitalist society, they have not only the right, but an obligation to "shop around" and choose the firm that best suits their particular needs. In the United States it is not uncommon for a major corporation to select and pay for the services of more than one search firm at a time (both IBM and AT&T have hired two firms simultaneously in order to get "quick results").

Israeli companies continue to produce and provide innovative software, high technology services and products throughout the international community on a scale vastly out of proportion to the country's small geographic size. Israel has over 150 companies traded publicly in the US and Europe. They have a combined market capitalization of over $70 billion. As far as this headhunter is concerned, that is as "right" as it gets.

Israeli entrepreneurs are no more aggressive or assertive than any other successful entrepreneur on the world market place. In our opinion the article was fraught with stereotypical jabs at Israeli integrity, with absolutely no basis in fact.

In America, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are cultural heroes. Icons to be studied and emulated. Such heroes are to be found In Israel too. Efi Arazi and Uzia Galil were founding fathers of Israeli technology. Had they been demure in their attempts, such companies as Scitex and Elron might never have been born. Today, second generation Israeli executives are professional, intelligent sophisticated internationalists, keenly aware of world markets and the impact they make on the technology scene.

Your readers, and in particular the Israeli high technology population, should be assured that they are "getting it right". Those who would object to such success might do well to take another look at themselves. They might want to look at their own timidity and examine their motives for such objections.

As an executive selection firm, we believe it is our job to adapt ourselves to our client's culture, not the other way around. It is incumbent upon us to act as liaison between the various parities involved in the search and smooth the way for a successful conclusion. It would be a great loss to technological progress if the genius of the Israeli entrepreneur were to be so stifled that Israel become a clone of less exciting and challenging endeavors.

The writer is president of Stewart/Laurence Associates, Inc.

Published by Israel's Business Arena on June 15, 1999

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