Wealth Management Blog

Working with Israeli’s

Posted by Sidney Lyons on Sun, Apr 21, 2013 @ 10:04 AM

I came on Aliyah at the age of 16 having been brought up and educated in London. My ethos of life was very English, restrained, with a emphasis on doing without fuss and without making lots of noise.

My first two years in Israel were spent at the England Israel High School, which was run on British lines within an Israeli boarding school. At 18 I signed up for the Army as part of a garin of Olim Hadishim. My army service was the first time I had to deal with the full force of Israeli culture, not just the brash Israeli style but also the tough army discipline. The first few weeks were a real shock, but over time, I got used to the new way of life.

Having then studied at University in Israel, I was pretty well versed in Israeli culture to begin working in Israel.working in israel

I began working at Mizrahi when I was 26 and have progressed within the organization. Working within a large Israeli bank is challenging at times frustrating. Israeli's can be very brash and will let you know exactly how they feel, even if it is not want you want to hear.

This frankness is in contrast to the English style of being constrained and sometimes sparse with the real truth. Whilst this style can hurt at times, its advantage is that you know where you stand. To be able to adapt one needs to be thick skinned and not to take everything to heart. People in Israel sometimes use language which would be frowned upon in an English bank, but is accepted within the local business scene.

The place of work in Israel is almost like a second family. Colleagues at work expect to be invited to your kids Bar or Bat Mitzvah and to family weddings. Likewise they will turn up at times of grief and when you need help. This again contrasts to common practice in the UK, where people do not normally invite work colleagues to family smachot.

In general working in Israel is more laid back than in other countries. This can be seen from the dress code and less formal atmosphere. Staff normally address their superiors by their first name and not using Mr. or Mrs.

Hebrew is the principal language used in Israel and it is important to have a good command of the language. Whilst most people have the ability to converse in English, they normally prefer to use Hebrew, and are not particularly keen to have to explain every other word.

To summarize, whilst it takes time to get accustomed to the Israeli work environment, once you have made the psychological change, and adjusted to local customs it is a rewarding experience. Don't think that everything in the "old country" is better. Each county has its own customs. None are better or worse – just different. 

Topics: Israel