Asaf Azulay - Israel's 40 Most Promising Young Senior Executives

Asaf Azulay

Globes G 40 - 34 year-old Asaf Azulay is Head of Marketing Strategy and Advertising and a Member of Management, Bank Hapoalim

Asaf Azulay

Head of Marketing Strategy and Advertising and Member of Management, Bank Hapoalim

Age: 34

Personal: Lives with his partner in Tel Aviv

Education: LL.B. Law, Ono Academic College

OK, we know that to define somebody in the field of marketing as possessing influence in the banking sector is something a little unexpected, or even unacceptable, but that is exactly the reason that Asaf Azulay was selected to be included in this project: because in today's world, where disciplines impact each other, psychology is economics, economics is technology and technology is strategic thinking - it's possible to learn a lot from a man that takes certain capabilities that are attributed to one field and makes use of them, in order to change another field.

It's not that Asaf Azulay immediately jumped at the offer he received from Bank Hapoalim CEO Arik Pinto to become the bank's marketing manager. After all, he had something to lose: he was then CEO of strategic consultancy firm Gitam BBDO and on the point of signing a long-term contract that would have ensured his position in the future in the company's management. He had however supported Bank Hapoalim and Pinto in the years prior to that in several marketing projects but the idea of a senior appointment with his largest client, he recounts today, never even entered his head. Only after several conversations and meetings with Pinto did he agree to the offer.

In his current position, Azulay is responsible for promoting the bank in a changing reality in which customers are seeking alternatives such as peer-to-peer lending ventures and digital banking.

The role of banks in the lives of people and businesses was and will remain important and significant but it is changing," says Azulay. "As somebody who was born and grew up in a different world than that of my parents - an open, global, quicker and digital world - I expect from my service providers and from my bank, a relationship which is more appropriate and personal, with a better experience."

"There are brands that have succeeded in completely changing my life, such as Gett, which has helped me forego a car for the first time in my life, through smart technology and a convenient interface, Apple Music, which has changed the way in which I listen to music, and of course the other tech giants, which I rely on almost every moment of my life. So each and every one of us expects from his service providers and from the bank to have a 'smart,' and individually tailored relationship."

Globes: And how is this done?

"The challenge for the banks is to combine a relationship that is growing all the time in the digital arena and the need to provide very personal service that creates significant value for customers. From our point of view, the technological changes represent a huge opportunity to help our customers to manage themselves in a better and smarter way."

And what does that mean from your point of view?

"In the coming years, we will focus on the value that we can give customers that need to make important financial decisions in their lives. We hear a lot about how digitalization and innovation make procedures shorter and easier on the day-to-day finances of customers but in the most critical situations they want somebody who will support them in the decision making process. The more options that people have that they can choose, the more difficult it is for them to choose, and they need a reliable and professional partner in the process."

For example?

"For example, a mortgage consultant. Think of those thousands of customers who are struggling to decide after winning the right to buy a home in the government's buyers fixed price program. These are unique offers that require a response. Among other things, the bank today develops and is advancing with tools to manage budgets, consultancy services for salaried staff reaching the age of retirement, accessible savings plans with other apps and applications."

You are a marketing person. Don't you think that your biggest challenge is the antagonism towards banks today?

"We certainly see a challenge in improving the public sentiment that has been created in recent years. We are trying much harder not to talk down and are looking for ways to repair and improve the dialogue with them and that is certainly the public that is our focus."

On what do you put emphasis?

"One of my tasks is to increase cooperation within the organization as part of the creation of a unified marketing strategy that succeeds in connecting all the banks different units to one clear and major narrative. For all this to happen, I manage a division that is much more flexible because the rapid changes around us require swift and precise responses."

"As somebody who came to the bank from the outside, I understand today far better how much there is a gap between what goes on in the bank and what people see from the outside. Hundreds of thousands of customers get amazing service every day, bankers and consultants help in taking the best financial decisions and banking operations that enable the economy to grow. My main role is to bridge this gap and reveal this information to the public.

What I learned from Gadi Eizenkot

Azulay also came to marketing from the outside. As somebody who aspired to be a combat soldier but was compelled to give up on his dream because of a medical problem, he worked hard and excelled in his job in the army Spokesperson's Unit and was eventually appointed Spokesman for the Judea and Samaria Division, which was then headed by Gadi Eizenkot, before he became the IDF Chief of Staff. Working with Eizenkot was a 24/7 job, he recalls, and was his first important professional experience. "I understood then how important it was to work alongside inspiring people and that it was possible to learn from them and their experience. Since then, I have made sure to choose people like that to work with, both in public service and in the business sector. Today I am privileged to work with the most interesting management that there is in the business world, and alongside the bank's CEO Arik Pinto, who is a manager that arouses inspiration as well as being a manager with human warmth and a business leader."

After being discharged from the army, He took part in the establishment of the Kadima political party and served as bureau chief of Yohanan Plesner who was the CEO of the party and subsequently a Knesset Member. His next stop was as media consultant to the late Binyamin (Fuad) Ben-Eliezer when he was Minister of National Infrastructures and Energy and Minister of the Economy. "Political life is the best school for the media and marketing," he says.

His first job in the private sector was with Gitam BBDO - he was there six years overall, three of them as CEO of the strategic consultancy company. In this position he acted as a consultant for the leading companies in Israel's economy such as Mobileye, Gett, Wix and Cisco, and he led a range of creative marketing projects in Israel and abroad including projects for Bank Hapoalim and he initiated some large conferences around the world in collaboration with leading media organizations such as Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal and Fox News. Several years ago, he set up the Spectrum II forum and arena for consultancy and inspiration for leading young CEOs in Israel.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on January 11, 2018

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018

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