As part of the Chamber Leadership Series, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce partnered for the first time with the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater to host a forum on November 18, 2015 highlighting Israeli leadership initiatives and the many ways Hampton Roads businesses can learn from Israel’s economic success.
Sitting on the panel were three international leaders: Joshua M. Kram, Executive Director of the Middle East Commercial Center for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Director of the U.S.-Israel Business Initiative, Lea Bogatch-Genossar, Vice President of Zim Integrated Shipping Services, Ltd., and Ralph Robbins, Executive Director of the Virginia Israel Advisory Board in the Office of the Governor.
The forum, moderated by Danny Rubin, Vice President of Rubin Communications Group, began after opening remarks from Donald Morris, Market Executive of Southern Bank and a blessing by Rabbi Alexander Haber of B’nai Israel Congregation in Norfolk. Mr. Rubin directed questions to all three experts and opened the floor to questions from business men and women in attendance. Quoting Mr. Kram’s op-ed article in the Jerusalem Times, Mr. Rubin asked him to elaborate on his statement that “U.S.-Israel economic relations is an underserved pillar of our strategic alliance.” Mr. Kram spoke of the vitality of Israel’s main export industries: water and oil, on the surrounding nations, as well as the many resources available to U.S. businesses interested in collaborating with and supporting Israeli businesses.
Ms. Bogatch-Genossar stressed the importance of a culturally diverse board of directors for any business, and spoke of the notable differences in Israeli and U.S. business communication styles, and what can be learned from each. As Vice President of Zim Integrated Shipping Services, Ltd., Ms. Bogatch-Genossar drew on her professional experiences to paint a picture of what commerce looks like for an Israeli company operating worldwide.
Providing the local voice from the Office of the Governor, Ralph Robbins discussed the tremendous technological advances made in Israeli and the importance of communicating the functionality and purposes of these technologies to American business owners. A Chamber member in attendance asked the panel if growing commercial interest could help mend political rifts between Israel and other countries. Both Mr. Robbins and Mr. Kram responded, emphasizing the commonality of ethics between the two nations, and their wholehearted agreement that, as Mr. Kram stated, “Political differences can be overcome through mutual opportunities.”
As the forum closed, Mr. Robbins stated the importance of proactive champions for Israeli-U.S. business alliances, specifically business and community leaders willing to work tirelessly toward productive partnerships with help from connections and resources provided by offices like our local Virginia Israel Advisory Board and on a national level, the U.S. Israel Business Initiative.
Special thanks to our Series Presenting Sponsor, Southern Bank, as well as Series Silver Sponsor Optima Health, Host Sponsor United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, Table Sponsors Annie Sandler, Hercules Fence Company, and the Tidewater Jewish Foundation, and Program Sponsor Culligan of Greater Virginia.