Employers Are Drawn More to Energy Than to Loyalty

NJ SBDC’s Formula For International Business Success

Corporate Angels

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Kathleen McGinn Spring and Bart Jackson were prepared for the November 27, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Garden State & Gaza: Perfect Together

Israel is a small country with an exceptionally well-educated

workforce. Increasingly, it is playing a big role in the design, development,

and testing of sophisticated software, Internet, pharmaceutical, and

biotechnology products. This makes the country a prime partner for

any number of New Jersey businesses.

Those interested in discovering the benefits of "Exporting to

and Investing in Israel" can attend the roundtable discussion

and networking breakfast presented by the New Jersey Global Business

Initiative (NJGBI) on Tuesday, December 3, at 8 a.m. at the Hyatt

Regency-Princeton on Route 1. Cost: $35. Call 609-771-2033 or e-mail

khansen@tcnj.edu.

Speakers include Zohar Peri, Israel’s economic minister to North

America; Eran Doran, Israel’s director of trade and investment;

Andrea Yonah, director of the New Jersey-Israel commission,

and Natan Tabak, CIO of Wakefern Foods. Discussion centers on specific

opportunities and industries for Garden State businesses. Afterwards

exporters and investors will break into work groups where, with the

aid of on-the-spot video conferencing, initial steps toward partnerships

will be explored.

"Business people who have attended the previous Center for Global

Business breakfasts at Mercer County College," notes Director

Keld Hansen, "will find our larger, state-wide New Jersey Global

Initiative sessions more fast-paced, practical and, well, more down

and dirty." These monthly breakfasts now are aimed not only at

those who want to learn about foreign trade, but at those ready to

invest and create partnerships today.

Teaming up with the Governor’s New Jersey Commerce and Economic Growth

Commission, the NJGBI has set itself up as a deal maker between Garden

State firms and a list of target nations ideally suited to New Jersey’s

production. In upcoming months, NJGBI will discuss opportunities and

align business partners with Hong Kong, Cuba, NAFTA participants,

the European Union, and the often overlooked Eastern European countries.

Interested exporters, investors, or professionals can obtain further

details by E-mailing khansen@tcnj.edu.

Back in 1989 Governor Thomas Kean saw the natural Garden State-Gaza

business connection and established the two as "Sister States,"

founding the New Jersey-Israel Commission to promote culture, education,

and trade connections. Panelist Yonah, current commission director,

states that Israel offers a true hand-in-glove trade relationship.

"Israel," he says, "has amazingly strong intellectual

capital in the fields of bio-tech, computer technology and design,

healthcare, pharmaceuticals — all New Jersey’s top industries."

Already several major firms, like Johnson & Johnson have staked out

large research and development centers in Israel, taking advantage

of the country’s expertise.

Yonah, a native of Cherry Hill who earned her political science degree

at Columbia, later moved to Israel, where her foreign language education

led to eight years of working joint U.S.-Israel ventures. She sees

Israel as a nation that has, as she puts it, "commercialized on

its disadvantages." Jamming 6.2 million inhabitants onto 20,770

square miles of virtually resourceless land has forced a 2.4 million

workforce to develop skills suited to a high-level knowledge-based

economy. A host of companies initiating high-tech agriculture, crisis

management, security, and desalinization have all blossomed from an

environment that has proved harsh since the days of Moses. All of

these specialties Yonah sees as profitable imports and partnership

links to the Garden State.

Panelist Doran, Israel’s director of trade and investment, emphasizes

the advantages the whole range of New Jersey industries can reap from

importing from Israel.

Early stage investment. If you had had the foresight 14

months ago to invest in Israel’s newly formed Graven Images Company,

you could have done quite well, says Doran. The firm developed a tiny,

ingestible camera that non-invasively transmits an astoundingly clear

picture of a patient’s insides, making it an important new tool in

any number of medical diagnoses. "Israel is chock full of these

new companies — incredibly idea rich — which desire either

American funding or American partners to help carry them through production

and into the market place," he says. He agrees with Yonah that

biotech, pharmaceutical, life sciences, and high tech ventures are

prime candidates for partnership between New Jersey and Israel.

<d>Free market alliances. Israel has developed a

surprisingly expansive set of free trade agreements with a number

of partners, ranging from most South American countries, all the European

Union, much of the Near and Far East, and all corners of Africa. Thus

she provides Garden State businesses with a tariff free gateway. Tradition

also works for New Jersey exporters. "Israel has long been viewed

as the eastern arm of the U.S.," says Doran. Not only does Israel

itself have a constant craving for American goods, but the country

is renowned for delivering them to the surrounding nations.

Easy partners. New Jersey-Israel partnerships are matters

of long standing. For decades, many large Garden State companies have

had research and development branches in Israel. Now small and mid-size

businesses are linking up with Israeli import/export firms to bring

their goods into Asia and Africa. The language, common business practices,

and established political ties make them the safe and obvious choice.

In fact, the city of Raanana, Israel, even provides a special New

Jersey trade mission, a counterpart to Yonah’s office, which designs

and builds successful partnerships between the two lands.

Israel’s needs. "We are the first to admit that we

cannot do it all," says Doran. "We can excellently take a

project from the scratch board right up through production. But after

that we have trouble." In the post-production areas of advertising,

marketing and distribution, Israel needs and craves Yankee know how.

Tight networks. "Israel just isn’t that big,"

laughs Doran. "Every engineer knows most of the other engineers.

It makes for a great sharing of ideas and a swift passage of the business

process." Bureaucracy typically can be overcome with the personal

touch.

However, as everyone is aware, this land of milk and honey is

beset with strife and problems. For the last decade Israeli industry

has been destructively cash starved. And in addition to her incessant

struggles with neighbors, being viewed as the "eastern arm of

American foreign policy" has not always proven to be an ideal

business booster. Along with the rest of the globe, Israel has slid

into a substantial recession this past 24 months. Among the sectors

hurt is its high-tech industry, on which Israel had placed high hopes.

Yet the corner is already being turned and economists are predicting

that Israel now offers a chance to buy low before prices rise.

As a final caveat, both Doran and Yonah plead with New Jerseyans to

be sensitive to the cultural differences. Frequently, the easy use

of English and similar dress can lull American business people into

assuming that you are truly at home. "Differences may be subtle,

but they are many," insists Doran. Payment schedules, for example,

typically are different. Consultants and sub-contractors get paid

only when the final results are submitted.

"Israel is a very informal, very personal country," Yonah

explains. Dress is much more casual and business deals are forged

more frequently on relationships. Israelis are very concerned with

the content of your character and will spend a long time working to

discover it. "One day you may spend 12 hours in heated negotiations,"

she says, "then the next you will be invited to your partner’s

grandson’s wedding where scores of people are fawning over you like

family." In short, Israel is a land where it is important to go

the extra, personal mile. And for those who are willing, it can prove

a profitable experience in many ways.

— Bart Jackson

Top Of Page
Employers Are Drawn More to Energy Than to Loyalty

There are signs that the job-hunting climate is improving.

Sheree Butterfield, right, a human resources specialist with

Drake Beam Moran’s (DBM) Forrestal Village office, says she is seeing

less downsizing. Her firm’s customers are companies in the throes

of personnel changes, which sometimes, but not always, means downsizing.

Her firm’s clients, for the most part, are individuals who are in

"career transition." And while the euphemism does mean "out

of work," the cause is no longer predominantly a downsizing.

"When the economy is not doing well, cutting people is a quick

way to save money," says Butterfield. That is exactly what DBM

had been seeing until recently. "We are a counter-cyclical business

in terms of career transition," she says. "The last two years

were the strongest ever for DBM."

Since the spring, however, she has not been seeing as much downsizing.

"Now," she says, "it’s more a division is being sold,

and eight or so people in the Princeton office are no longer needed."

But whether the move to the unemployment line comes as a result of

a mass downsizing or of a merger or a decision to scrap an office

or a line of business, the result for the displaced individual is

the same. DBM is among the outplacement firms whose mission it is

to get those individuals back into a good position as soon as possible.

On Tuesday, December 3, at 8:30 a.m. Butterfield joins with other

HR professionals in a seminar on "HR Transitions: Taking Your

Next Step." The Society of Human Relations Management event takes

place at Rutgers University’s Bush Center in Somerset. Other panelists

include Jeffrey Adkins of Right Management Consultants, Andrew

Borkin of Strategic Advancement Inc., Donald Doele of the

Workplace Group, Gerald Crispin of MMC Group, and Butterfield’s

colleague at DBM, Amy Raditz. Call 908-281-9563 for further

information.

The clients in Butterfield’s office are nearly all executives, many

of them high-level executives. For about half, finding themselves

suddenly on the street is getting to be old hat. For the others, some

longtime employees with the same company, the experience is new. For

all, it is unsettling. Adding to the stress is the fact that, in many

cases, severance is not the thick cushion it once was. Perhaps because

this is the case, Butterfield says her clients are raring to go from

day one.

Still, it is now taking the executives DBM works with about five months

to find a new position. And in this less-than-ideal economic climate

are they having to settle for less? Butterfield does not hesitate

a second before declaring No! Interestingly, the fact that displaced

executives are finding jobs that are at least equal to the ones they

left has little to do with their own willingness to make a downward

move. "It’s driven by the employer," says Butterfield. She

finds that no employer wants an overqualified employee, fearing that

he will bolt at the first opportunity.

While getting back into the game is not easy — not now — there

are some strategies that help. Just as important there are some things

the still-employed can do that will provide a softer landing should

they be made redundant:

Look alive! It is vital that job seekers project vitality,

flexibility, and an eagerness for new challenges. Experience is a

given, but it is far from enough. Successful candidates need to demonstrate

a high energy level and an ability to make a contribution to a new

organization quickly.

Emphasize change-hardiness. Forget loyalty. A new employer

does not want to hear how you faithfully served your past company

for three decades. Loyalty no longer wins a lot of points, says Butterfield.

If you were with just one employer for a long time, prepare vignettes

showcasing the challenges you met while moving among different positions

at that company.

Re-think career options. Butterfield says that DBM’s clients

often decide early on in the assessment program through which the

company leads them that the corporate life is no longer for them.

Many are even grateful to have been shown the door, and after taking

a good look at their skills and interests, decide to go in an entirely

different direction.

In any case, whether the decision is to look for another corporate

gig, start a business, teach third graders, or look into the opportunities

in the non-profit sector, Butterfield says there is one single thing

that is the biggest help in the transition. And it is something everyone

can do — and really should do — while still employed.

"Network!" she says. Nothing is as important. Don’t get so

lost in work that you lose track of your friends and business associates.

Beyond keeping up a strong network, she thinks it is a good idea to

take those calls from headhunters and even to go on a few job interviews

from time to time, even if you have no desire to leave your current

job.

No job — absolutely, positively no job at all — is truly secure

over the long term, Butterfield says, although she is still seeing

some folks who thought that was the case. A number of DBM’s clients

are former high tech workers. "They were always so highly employable,"

she says. "This is such a huge shock to their systems."

Top Of Page
NJ SBDC’s Formula For International Business Success

<d>Jessica Alpert-Goldman is the winner of last year’s

New Jersey Small Business Development Center’s International Award.

At 28, and looking a good deal younger (there are lots of pictures

of her on her website, www.worldaccordingtojess.com), Alpert-Goldman

has been the owner of an international business for just a year. She

designs and sells pricey fashion forward handbags that she has manufactured

in Asia. Already, she has gotten ink in Vogue, Us, New Jersey Monthly,

InStyle, ImProper Bostonian, and Time.

Alpert, whose wares have appeared on the arms of Sex in the City’s

trend-setting stars, waded into international business — an arena

every bit as fraught with difficulty as is New York’s single scene

— with the help of Roger Cohen. Cohen, an international

business consultant based in Upper Nyack, New York (www.rogercohen.com),

is on contract with the NJSBDC to provide instruction and consultation

to New Jersey residents involved in — or contemplating getting

involved in — international trade.

No pie-in-the-foreign-sky optimist, Cohen flatly states that "international

trade is never easy." Yet, as Alpert-Goldman’s success indicates,

it is possible, even for start-up entrepreneurs. Cohen provides a

roadmap when he gives a three-hour seminar on "Demystifying International

Trade" on Wednesday, December 4, at 6:30 p.m. at an NJSBDC event

at Raritan Valley Community College. Cost: $30. Call 908-218-8871.

In addition to his work for the NJSBDC, Cohen sees private clients

through Cohen International, a company he formed in 1991 to consult

on business development to international companies and to start-ups.

A graduate of Cornell (Class of 1978), where he studied planning and

policy development, Cohen has managed factory construction in Canada

for Coke, Pepsi, and 7-Up, represented the Japanese Ministry of Finance

to the United States Department of Treasury, and developed the first

export markets of United States specialty paper to Japan.

Just back from a business trip to Japan and China, Cohen talks about

the ingredients for success in international trade:

Start with a domestic business. "International trade

is like the super charger for an engine," Cohen says. It is best

used as an extension of a current business. People come to him all

the time talking excitedly about an interesting product they saw while

on vacation. Could the doll or electronic gadget or line of sweaters

sweep the United States? Maybe, he says, but probably not. The barriers

to distribution are huge, and the time investment necessary to turn

a vacation find into a business would be enormous.

For the person or company already selling software or designing schools

or manufacturing modular homes, however, expanding into other countries

can often be profitable.

Stick to what you know. A family with relatives involved

in producing olive oil in Italy might use that connection to start

an import business, says Cohen. In the same vein, a company making

auto parts in South Jersey might consider adding an export side to

the business.

While Alpert-Cohen, the young woman with the international handbag

company, did not have a close overseas connection or an existing company,

she did know handbags. Her resume speaks of "14 fashion-fabulous

to fashion-mishap" jobs.

Consider starting with an "easy" market. Look

for a common language, Cohen suggests, pointing out that it might

be easier for the typically uni-lingual American entrepreneur to do

business with the U.K. than with a country where few people speak

English. Also look for proximity. Cohen points out that Canada and

Mexico are two of the country’s main trading partners.

But, Cohen warns, be aware that there are no truly "easy"

countries with which to trade. International trade, no matter where,

involves lots due diligence and perseverance.

Analyze what you have to offer. "If you say `my price

is lower,’ you’re not going to succeed," says Cohen. An entrepreneur

taking on international markets needs to have competitive advantages

that go beyond price. As an example, he says, a person thinking of

finding clients for his telecom business in Finland might have a shot

if he knows the technology, speaks the language, appreciates the culture,

and has had dealings with Finnish companies.

Start with marketing. In his seminars Cohen devotes a

good amount of time to marketing. He says he sees many people —

especially in the technology field — who have developed products

they believe are exciting and can’t wait to start selling them. Before

sales, he points out, comes marketing. It is vital to determine who

might be interested in buying from you and how you will let them know

that you could be a great supplier for them.

Don’t rely too heavily on the Internet. The Internet is

great for selling one or two or fifty items at a time, but, says Cohen,

is no help with mass distribution.

Think through distribution. This is a tough one. The Wal-Marts

of the world, says Cohen, most often do not even buy from manufacturers,

but rather depend upon ultra-sophisticated distributors. "Can

you guarantee that you will have between 15 and 24 of your widgets

on their shelves at all times?" asks Cohen. This is no easy task

for the little guy trying to bring in any product, let alone one that

has to travel across national borders and make it through customs.

While the obstacles to foreign trade are formidable, New Jerseyans

are making the connection all the time. Cohen’s student, Alpert-Goldman,

is an example. Armed with a unique, relatively expensive line product,

she has gotten her goods on the shelves of a number of small, specialty

shops. Anyone who dreams of replicating her success might want to

attend Cohen’s seminar to get a handle on the realities — and

the possibilities.

Top Of Page
Corporate Angels

Here’s a practical public relations gesture that is

sure to be appreciated while also raising funds for two area non-profits:

McCarter Theater and Kids-for-Kids of New Jersey.

Beginning Friday, November 29, Palmer Square management is transforming

a storefront at 43 Hulfish Street, Princeton, into "Holiday Central."

The space will be open Thursday and Friday evenings as well as Saturday

and Sunday afternoons as a rest stop for tired shoppers plus a collection

point for new unwrapped toys, winter outerwear, and toiletries to

be distributed to the needy by Kids-for-Kids, a service organization

run by teenagers.

In addition, the storefront will feature gift wrapping, the proceeds

of which will benefit McCarter’s education department, and it will

also display items from the theater’s company store. In return McCarter

will present guest appearances by members of its "Christmas Carol"

cast.


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