Sharad has recently graduated from IE Business School. He’s an IT professional who has worked for clients in the financial and manufacturing industry located in Asia and the US. Because of his interest in the technology field he chose an exchange program in Technion, Israel.
Sharad, when you attended the presentation “Tel-Aviv as a startup city”, we were surprised to discover that you were traveling to Israel that exact week. Could you explain what made you choose Israel as your exchange country?
Coming from a technology background I’ve always heard a lot of stories about tech startups from Israel, and I always wanted to experience Israeli culture and have the opportunity to know more about it. Global network week at IE was the perfect opportunity to go to Israel and meet startups and students from around the world. Summarizing I can say that it was an amazing experience.
Israel has a certain image that misleads people causing them to not know that Israel is a highly innovative and entrepreneurship based country. What have you discovered about Israel that surprised you?
From the many things that made me love the country, two things stood out:
• Government’s support: Finding out that the government spends over 6% of its GDP to provide resources for startups, which is highest in the world, was quite impressive.
Being such a small country, I was impressed to know how they have managed to produce so many success stories out of such a small population.
• Army training: I found out details about the mandatory army training and also about the traveling preferences people have after serving in the army, with most people choosing to go to India and/or Latin America for a couple of months. I also found out about “The Hummus Trail”, a set path that a lot of Israeli people follow when they visit India.
In your opinion, what drives the entrepreneurship spirit in Israel?
As I understood, it’s the perfect blend between culture and the governments support. It’s deeply embedded in their culture that people want to create something innovative and the government supports them for this. This combination is hard to find or re-create in other countries. And I think what Israel has achieved is commendable.
What did you learn during your time in Israel?
Because it is a big tech-hub, one of my main reasons to go to Israel was to try and find leads to get work in the country. But what I learnt was the difficulty to work in the country if you are not Jewish. I’m not sure if many people try to seek employment there, but it is definitely more complicated for companies to hire someone who is not Jewish than hiring a Jewish person.
The country can invite a lot of external talent if the correct policies are in place to make it easy for companies.
What can you recommend to people who want to have the same experience and come to work in Israel?
I would recommend people to do some research about the country before going; network as much as they can and be specific about what they want to find out in their visit. I found that people in Israel are nice and helpful, so it is easy to reach out to them and ask for information if needed.
Interviewed by Nir Hindi, IE Israel Club Madrid Chapter