Through the Glass Ceiling: Analyze this

Credit Maalot's Dorit Salinger with an 'AAA' in management.

Dorit Salinger 88 298 (photo credit: )
Dorit Salinger 88 298
(photo credit: )
The pressure doesn't get much heavier than knowing that the future of a municipality or corporation could be dependent on your decisions. But that's exactly the responsibility Dorit Salinger faces daily as CEO of Maalot, the Israel securities credit agency. Maalot, the country's leading, recognized credit agency, was established in 1991 under the initiative and with the support of the Israel Securities Authority, and with the assistance of the Israeli Treasury and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. The agency provides credit ratings of both publicly issued and private long- and short-term liabilities, including bonds, convertible securities and commercial paper. Maalot rates municipalities, asset-backed securities, project finance and the financial strength of insurance companies. Since November 1998, Maalot has been affiliated with Standard & Poor's, a leading US credit rating agency, to share expertise, knowledge of the capital markets and analytical data. Salinger and her analysts often turn into tremendously powerful people with the initial and follow-up ratings they assign determining what types of financing the entities can raise. At the same time, rating agencies have to preserve their good name. If they heap superlatives on lousy companies and rate them too high, they stand to lose the market's confidence. Since its establishment, Maalot has analyzed more than 500 Israeli corporate issues from Africa Israel, Strauss-Elite, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, IDB Holdings Ltd. to Dor-Alon. In this pressurized environment, Salinger describes her management style as very much team-oriented, while stressing the importance of combining commitment, dedication and flexibility. "We work in a group where decision-making takes place," says Salinger. "There is no hierarchy, I expect everyone on my team to be active, doubt, criticize and be open-minded in order to improve." Being a good manager and a mentsch - being assertive while also being very decent - is the management style, according to Salinger, which allows both men and women to succeed in the workplace. "Women and men can combine a professional life and family," Salinger says in a rare interview with The Jerusalem Post. "In as much as you would have to share responsibility and cooperate at work, the same applies to the home. It is a matter of good management, cooperation and supporting each other." Salinger, who started as an analyst at Maalot in 1992 barely a year after the agency was founded, has been part of every step of building up the first rating agency to assess bonds in the local market. "We have grown from four employees to a team of 30," says Salinger proudly. "In recruiting staff at Maalot, gender plays no role at all - only skill and commitment." About 40% of Maalot's employees are women, working in all types of positions, Salinger notes. "I do believe that every woman who wants to progress can do so as much as her male counterpart. However, this seems a utopian view when I look at reality," she says. "Very often, I am the only woman in a board room." According to Salinger, one of the problems stems from societal perceptions as women often are the main caretakers in the family, often bearing more of the brunt than their male counterparts. "In Israel, the family is very important. A change in education towards the norm of sharing responsibility and cooperation - and better infrastructures for men and women at the workplace - would make more women dare to join the working world," Salinger says. The mother of two youngsters says the launch and development of the credit rating process in Israel's capital markets in recent years required a very dedicated and professional team. At the same time, however, she says many of the team members have children or other commitments - so Maalot provides flexibility at work, if needed. It is not unusual, she says, for one of her male colleagues to phone the office in the morning to give notice that he will be in at noon because of child commitments. "So yes, we had to rearrange morning meetings. But you can do that if there is trust and dedication in your team." Salinger, who was raised in Haifa, barely stopped for breath during her academic and professional career as an economist, analyst and manager. The 46-year-old professional holds a BA in Economics and Management, which she received from the Haifa Technion in 1984. Her MBA was awarded by Tel Aviv University in 1989. She started her career at the economics division of the supermarket chain Supersol, where she worked for two years. After that, she became an analyst for a financial consultancy firm where she stayed for six years. At Maalot, Salinger jumped fairly swiftly from head analyst to deputy director-general and to the CEO position she holds today. "Every day is a challenge in the Israeli market, which is undergoing revolutionary changes to be able to compete with global markets, and we are part of this development," she says. "In such a dynamic environment, what is most important is always to try and be ahead." Although, Salinger is rather press shy, rarely giving interviews to protect her privacy, she is highly active in the public sphere, investing much of her time (even at weekend seminars) to public speaking at conferences on business, ethics and corporate social responsibility, as well as the progress of women in business. "I very much believe in education," she concludes. "Today our market needs to be clever." Profile of a powerhouse Name: Dorit Salinger Born: Haifa Age: 46 Married with 2 children Education: BA in Economics and Management, Haifa Technion MBA Tel Aviv University Professional milestones: Economist at Supersol Analyst at financial consultancy CEO Maalot