Four lessons in leadership from Ofra Strauss

Ofra Strauss, chairperson of the Strauss Group gives her four tips for succeeding in business and growing as a person.

Ofra Strauss, chairperson of the Strauss Group at The Jerusalem Post WE conference, July 27, 2022. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Ofra Strauss, chairperson of the Strauss Group at The Jerusalem Post WE conference, July 27, 2022.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Ofra Strauss, chairperson of the Strauss Group, is an icon for Israeli businesswomen. 

Ranked in the top 50 on Fortune’s list of Most Powerful Women in Business, she has chaired Maala – Business for Social Responsibility, served as president of Jasmine – Jewish-Arab Businesswomen’s Association and as chair of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce, among many other hats.

On Tuesday evening, she offered her advice to young women looking to build their careers at the Women’s Entrepreneurship Summit in Tel Aviv, sponsored by the Jerusalem Post and WE.

No. 1: Enjoy what you are doing at the moment.

 “I was never thinking about the next step,” Strauss said. 

 THE STRAUSS Elite candy factory in Nazareth. (credit: David Cohen/Flash90) THE STRAUSS Elite candy factory in Nazareth. (credit: David Cohen/Flash90)

No. 2: Build a network.

Strauss said that over the years she met amazing people and she made sure that those she really wanted to stay in her life did so.

“They are my encouragement and fun,” she told the crowd. “I have an amazing network of people… There are so many people everywhere that can be your people… Make them your tribe.”

“I have an amazing network of people… There are so many people everywhere that can be your people… Make them your tribe.”

Ofra Strauss

No. 3: Love what you do.

“Until today, I cannot wait to wake up in the morning and do what I am doing,” she said. “Sure, it is hard sometimes. My father used to say there are days you feel everything is great, screwing the screw, and there are days they jump out at you.

“But like Scarlett O'hara said, ‘Tomorrow is another day,’” Strauss continued. “There is another day the day after. That I can promise you.

No. 4: Try to look at the glass half full. 

Strauss said she learned some of these fundamental lessons from her first job at Estee Lauder in New York, where she worked for four years before becoming pregnant with her first son and returning to Israel. 

“Those four years really showed me what professionalism is – day and night to think how we can be better and better,” she said.

When she became chair of her grandparents’ company, people used to ask her what it was like to be the only woman in the room. At first, she did not understand the question.

“I got here, and it was not an issue, so why are they asking me this question?” she quipped. But she said that it “only took me two minutes to understand: If the room was empty of women and I didn’t see them around me, something was fundamentally wrong.”

So, she started to talk about women specifically, and about diversity in the workplace in general. 

“We did not even know how to say diversity in Hebrew,” she recalled. 

But Strauss persevered. 

She said that empowering women is not about women, it is about society as a whole, the belief that women have a right to be at the top and an understanding that they can succeed in top roles.