Today we had the pleasure of getting to speak with Cheryl Perlmutter, a Wash U alumna who currently works as a supply chain manager at Boeing. Cheryl discussed her career at Boeing in the context of Boeing’s ongoing dealings with Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI).
IAI was founded in 1953, just five years after the founding of the state of Israel. The government-owned corporation, which specializes in aircraft modification, radars, missiles, and satellites, was started largely out of necessity as a partner for the Israeli Air Force. Over the years, IAI and Boeing’s Defense, Space & Security (BDS) business developed a natural partnership in the production of military aircraft technology.
As a supplier manager, Cheryl worked extensively on the F-15 program, coordinating the shipment and assembly of parts between these countries on one of today’s most modern military aircrafts.
While the Israelis can be brilliant and innovative people to work with, their unique business style can be somewhat shocking to foreigners. Israelis tend to be hardworking, proud, and confident individuals. They are casual, blunt, and at times aggressive when it comes to negotiating. There is little regard for organizational hierarchy as the emphasis rests upon the team as a whole. In a typical business meeting with Israelis, one can forget about the meeting’s agenda as it is rarely followed. Taboo topics? Forget about them; there are none. Side conversations (in Hebrew) are to be expected and answering one’s phone in the middle of a meeting is not seen as a sign of disrespect. Furthermore, Israelis tend to be very near-term focused, preferring an ends-justify-the-means approach over a strictly detail oriented approach.
That said, there is no doubt that Israelis are reliable and talented individuals, as can be seen by the success of the Boeing and IAI partnership. When doing business with Israelis, it is important to be aware of these cultural differences if one hopes to build a strong relationship.
Israelis are very expressive people, so showing appreciation and making an effort to understand their culture is immensely important. Israelis love mixing business with pleasure, which is an important part of relationship building. Lateness is to be expected so one should plan his or her schedule accordingly. While the differences between cultures can be frustrating, and at times unsettling, doing business with Israelis can be an incredibly rewarding and economically beneficial endeavor. A little chutzpah goes a long way.
Olin School of Business, Class of 2017
Hometown: Short Hills, NJ
The Business, Innovation & Entrepreneurship in Israel course at Olin Business School provides WUSTL undergraduates an opportunity to understand the interconnectedness between culture, politics and business, and how all three produce a unique and successful business environment in Israel. Students travel to Israel during spring break to learn first-hand about the Israeli business culture. Students in this course are asked to reflect about their in-class takeaways, as well as throughout their immersion trip to Israel.