I landed in Israel and took out shekels at the airport because I knew the taxis don’t take cards.
Instantly, I accustomed myself to the lay of the land – and the undeniable energy that courses through the bustling streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Every visit to Israel leaves an indelible impact. This journey was a work trip to Israel Cyber Week 2023, facilitated by the Trans-Tasman Business Circle in partnership with my office.
I am employed by the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry’s Foreign Trade Administration, in Australia, as a local officer. Daily, I am in touch with Israelis, helping them export to Australia. It’s a role that has allowed me to visit Israel with this delegation (and the previous year’s too) after meticulously helping plan the trip and trying to create as many business outcomes as possible in a week.
But even I was surprised by the tapestry of lessons and realisations about the people behind the companies that would unravel from this trip.
As I wandered through the Tel Aviv business district, I was awestruck by the glass and concrete skyscrapers that represented Israel’s incredible progress over its 75-year history. A nation born amidst turbulent times now stands as a testament to resilience and innovation – a startup nation transformed into a scale-up nation, brimming with capital investments and unicorn enterprises. Israeli buildings and businesses, for the first time, in physical structures, not just mental applications, were now becoming on par with all other countries in the world.
During this stay, the mission was clear: to nurture connections between Australian and New Zealand cyber professionals and Israeli cyber vendors. But beyond the glossy façade of enterprise technologies, I made an interesting realisation – at the heart of every business lies the people who steer its course.
Meeting the founders and operators of these companies, I delved deep into their stories, aspirations and passion for delivering impactful outcomes. Together, we embarked on a journey to learn from Israel’s finest cyber companies, from giants like Check Point to trailblazers like Findings. We met the cloud-security unicorn Orca, and were in awe of the elite cyber negotiators at Sygnia. The encounter with Sentra, born from the brilliance of a Retired Brigadier General of Unit 8200, was nothing short of inspiring. And who could forget the company that transformed warriors into coders – challenging conventions and redefining possibilities?
The passion for cyber security in Israel was palpable. As we delved into discussions, it became apparent that the landscape was evolving, propelled by the AI revolution. The spectre of hackers employing targeted ChatGPT-styled approaches loomed large, causing everyone to acknowledge the tangible impact of cyber security on our lives. Our delegation days in Israel were a whirlwind of 150 individual business meetings, each fuelled by the desire to fortify against cyber threats and secure the data at the heart of operations.
But beyond the boardrooms and business discussions, the human connections left the most profound impression.
The Israelis and Australians/New Zealanders showcased strikingly different approaches to cyber security. The former, driven by necessity, believed in acting and listening – a boldness that sprang from a history of challenges. On the other hand, the latter, meticulous and cautious, preferred to absorb every piece of information before embarking on the business outcome. At first glance, it seemed as though these differences could create insurmountable barriers. However, I discovered that at the core, the Israelis and Australians/New Zealanders were driven by the same purpose – to safeguard themselves from external threats. Despite the varying approaches, they overcame the barriers and collaborated, uniting their strengths to create unprecedented business outcomes.
Yet, amidst the mutual admiration and collaboration, questions lingered in the minds of some – why to trust Israel with sensitive data? Why rely on foreign powers to protect us from state-based actors?
The answer was simple – it was not the geographical location that earned trust; it was the character and integrity of the people.
This journey to Israel instilled my unwavering desire to contribute to a world where individuals, businesses and nations unite in their quest for excellence.
My Israel story transcends mere business dealings. It is a tale of the unyielding pursuit of progress. It is a story of diverse minds coming together to protect and propel their organisations, and nations, forward. Above all, it is a testament to the power of human connections and the profound impact that they can have on an individual’s life. It has shown me that no matter our backgrounds, we can unite under a common purpose – to protect and nurture the world we inhabit.
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