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November 2, 2021 10:33 am
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Microsoft Israel GM: Time to Bring Back Israeli High-Tech Expats

avatar by Tomer Hadar / CTech

Silhouettes of laptop and mobile device users are seen next to a screen projection of Microsoft logo. Photo: Reuters / Dado Ruvic / Illustration.

CTech – “We are enjoying the recruitment process, and plan to hire an additional 2,500 workers over the coming years,” said Michal Braverman-Blumenstyk, the General Manager of Microsoft Israel’s R&D Center and CTO of Cloud & AI Security at Calcalist’s Tech TLV conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday during an interview with Calcalist’s Sophie Shulman.

“Over the coming years, we plan to double the amount of employees at Microsoft Israel’s R&D Center, and that’s after we’ve already grown our workforce by 55% over the past two years. There are several things we plan to do. We believe that working here is fun, and our employees inspire hundreds of millions of people around the world. It’s important to us to bring in talent, make an impact, and do good,” Braverman-Blumenstyk said.

“We operate on several different levels. Education is foremost. We are currently working on training people from one university. I believe that through combining academia and industry, we’ll be able to conduct a training program that will fit Microsoft’s needs and content. Our people have put an emphasis on university curriculums, and that’s how we’ll remain better focused on the industry’s needs. It will be a win both for us and for academia. The Israeli high-tech industry is amazing, and we’ve proven that we are propelling the Israeli economy forward. However, we realize that only 8% of the population currently works in high-tech; our goal is to reach 15%.”

According to the Microsoft Israel GM, “we’ll need variety. We will hire workers who live in peripheral communities, and will open a center in Beer Sheva and Jerusalem for ultra-Orthodox Jews, Arabs, and everyone.”

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Returning high-tech workers to Israel

Regarding the issue of importing foreign high-tech workers, she commented: “I prefer our program, which is designed to bring Israeli high-tech expats back home. There are over 200,000 amazing Israeli high-tech workers around the world, and we also allow relocation, but we still need to return these people home. I studied in the US but came back to Israel. Returning to Israel isn’t simple, and as a country we need to establish an entity that will deal with issues related to returning. That’s far more effective than importing foreign workers.”

Like other companies, Microsoft is also experiencing a shortage of workers. According to Braverman-Blumenstyk, “a recent study showed that the industry is missing 13,500 workers, but I think that number is far larger; it’s a function of supply and demand. If we manage to return only 10% of Israeli high-tech employees who are currently overseas, then we can solve the worker shortage. I’m talking about the government aspect, and there has been a response. Due to the pandemic, many have been longing to return home to Israel and we need to make that process easier. That’s what we’re doing at Microsoft, and that’s why many of our employees returned to Israel during the pandemic. Many people who we sent overseas are also returning, because we are making it easier on them, we’re embracing them.”

As to the issue of cybersecurity, Braverman-Blumenstyk said: “My position is also focused on cyber as CTO of Cloud & AI Security. I didn’t agree to forgo my position at our R&D Center. We are developing several cyber technologies, and half of our employees here are developing cyber products. These are some of Microsoft’s leading products. Over the past few years, we’ve acquired several companies in the cyber arena, including Adallom. During the pandemic, we conducted two acquisitions of cyber companies, and adapted their technologies. We are constantly searching for new opportunities. Microsoft is constantly growing, and these mergers are an important part of our acquisition strategy. Cyber comes in part from our R&D Center in Israel, partly from our own organic innovation, and partly through acquisitions. I don’t think there’s a cyber bubble. Recently, digital transformation really accelerated, and that’s amazing. That’s why we constantly need new cyber experts. We need to remain one step ahead of our competitors. Cyber isn’t a bubble, but rather an industry that is meeting our current needs.”

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