TAU alumni giving back to young generation of tech innovators

Adi Ofek, CEO of Mercedes-Benz R&D center in Israel, started out at TAU and maintains warm relations with the university staff.

 

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 photo credit: ANAT KAZULA
 
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“It’s very satisfying and enjoyable to meet other alumni, and especially new students, who ask questions about the world from a completely different perspective compared to the time I was at university,” says Adi Ofek, CEO of Mercedes-Benz R&D center in Israel, who also holds the mandate for Car IT Security for Mercedes-Benz. Ofek is an alumna of Tel Aviv University, and like many of her friends who are members of the Tel Aviv University Alumni Organization, maintains warm relations with the university staff and contributes her time and experience.

Ofek holds a BA in Management and Sociology and an MBA with a specialization in finance and accounting. She has been with the Mercedes-Benz group for 22 years and has spent almost half of her career outside Israel. “For me, Mercedes-Benz is like family,” she says. “I began my career in finance. After completing my studies, I started working for a large computer company (ONE1). I worked directly with the CEO, and we set up a leasing division. During that time, I completed my master’s degree. When I was heading the leasing division at ONE1, I was approached with an offer to join Mercedes-Benz Financial Services in Israel. Colmobil was a joint venture partner of the Israeli entity at the time.”

Working in Singapore as an Israeli

Ofek was recruited to the company in 2000 as a credit department manager. “I worked in Israel for seven years, and both my children were born during this time,” she recalls, “and then a job became available in Singapore to lead Credit & Risk for Africa and the Asia-Pacific region. At first, I thought that as a young woman from Israel, I would have no chance to be accepted for this position, but I got it, and we flew with the children to Singapore.

“At the regional office in Singapore, I worked with highly qualified colleagues. I felt that the university and my experience in Israel gave me the proper tools to live up to the high standards of work, such as the ability to solve problems, which is unique to Israel, and to carry out complex tasks effectively. I felt that I had received the proper tools in my education.”

OFEK’S EMPLOYMENT IN SINGAPORE was a direct continuation of the trust she gained in Israel. She worked in Singapore for six years in the financial services sector, managing credit portfolios and financial risk, and was then appointed to the position of CEO of the Mercedes-Benz Financial Services Company in Korea. During her time as Head of Credit and Risk for Africa and Asia Pacific Region in Singapore, she was promoted and became the highest-ranking woman for Mercedes-Benz in Asia at the time. “In 2015, due to Israel’s strong Innovation capabilities, a few top executives visited Israel, which resulted in a decision to set up a tech hub in Tel Aviv. Due to Israel’s strong cybersecurity competence, it was decided to focus the tech hub in Tel Aviv on car IT security.

“For me, Mercedes-Benz is like family,”

CEO of Mercedes-Benz R&D center Adi Ofek

 “With thirty employees, our team is relatively small, but we make a strategic contribution to software development at Mercedes-Benz,” says Ofek.” Israel’s experience and technology know-how in cybersecurity allow us to bring so much value to our company.”

The connection that Ofek maintains with Tel Aviv University also touches on her activities in society, through which she can give back to the younger generation. “I’m very happy to contribute when I’m asked to give lectures, share, and help as much as I can,” she says. “Since I was a high school student, it was very important for me to succeed, and fortunately, with a lot of hard work, I was able to realize my potential. After my IDF service, when I went back to study and came to Tel Aviv University, I immediately noticed the high level of the lecturers and the students in the Faculty of Management, and I knew that there was a quality admission screening process. I enjoyed studying at the university, and the theoretical material was very interesting and challenging. I felt I was provided the tools necessary to succeed and deal with major challenges. I am proud to say that I studied at TAU. As part of the Mercedes-Benz R&D Center, we also work with students who want to do a final project and offer them research proposals. It’s a relatively new collaboration, but the interaction with them is very helpful and pleasant.”

About the Tel Aviv University Alumni Organization

Tel Aviv University has over 200,000 alumni, many of whom are top players and leaders in all sectors of Israel’s economy and society, holding key positions in law, hi-tech, hospitals, media, education, and of course, academia. TAU Alumni Organization’s goal is to leverage the influence of TAU alumni as a force contributing to Israeli society and to strengthen TAU’s global reputation. It strives to serve TAU Alumni by sharing knowledge, promoting professional networking, and creating inspiring, valuable opportunities. The mission of the Tel Aviv University Alumni Organization is to form and cultivate a world-changing community.

Translated by Alan Rosenbaum

Written in cooperation with Tel Aviv University.