‘Long-Tech,’ Importance of Longevity and Consistency at Rafael Systems

“Long tech requires a large number of people with years of professional experience in the field,” said Shapira.

Ayelet Shapira at the Maariv National Security Conferenc in Tel Aviv on March 27, 2019 (photo credit: MOR ALONI/MAARIV)
Ayelet Shapira at the Maariv National Security Conferenc in Tel Aviv on March 27, 2019
(photo credit: MOR ALONI/MAARIV)
The kind of technology that is utilized to keep Israeli citizens safe - such as Iron Dome and David’s Sling - to name two of Rafael’s (Rafael Advanced Defense Systems) most well-known defense systems, do not just grow out of a vacuum.
There can be no doubt that the technology that goes into the defense systems is complex and difficult, but it’s also “exciting and interesting,” according to Ayelet Shapira, Head of Rafael’s manor and technology department.
Shapira drew a distinction between the technology world in general and the universe that Rafael inhabits. Israel is famous for being labeled the Start-up Nation, a deep repository of innovation, inspiration and technological know-how. However, there are important factors that distinguish Rafael and its approach to its work.
Shapira described this as “long tech,” in contradistinction from the kinds of short-term technology that make up much of Silicon Wadi - Israel’s technology hub that runs along a portion of its coastal plain.
“Long tech requires a large number of people with years of professional experience in the field,” said Shapira. “Our technology requires around 1,000 people across the engineering, design, and R&D disciplines, to name a few.” She also pointed out that whereas much of high-tech draws a younger crowd to it, Rafael actively wants people who have more experience. “Knowledge is not only acquired at academic institutions,” clarified Shapira, “but also through experience and longevity.”
Rafael understands the importance of its human capital and invests much time and energy in cultivating a culture of excellence. There is also a deliberate focus on taking a long view of things. There’s that word again, long-term. It is critical to what the company does. Shapira emphasized that the company needs to stay well-ahead of the curve and anticipate what kinds of technological needs will be required, before the actual impetus has appeared.
Despite being at the forefront of their field, Rafael does not rest on its laurels. “We investigate our failures and successes, to better understand how we can improve in the future,” she said.
Shapira concluded with a surprising twist. “It seems absurd,” she said almost apologetically, “but I hope to live in a world where there is no need for our technology.” She followed it with a short side note about how Zionism still means a great deal to the company and the workers. “[Zionism] is not a dirty word. Even among the youngest generations, they understand and appreciate their heritage.”


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