During the last two years I had the pleasure of participating in a team that built a new engineering center for EMC in Beer Sheva.
Beer Sheva is only 116.5 kilometers from Tel Aviv, but had five Hi-Tech companies , compared with around 3,000 in the greater tel Aviv area.
The beginning was not easy. There are 500 graduates from Ben Gurion University who are potential software developers. However, because of the lack of employment, many relocate to Tel Aviv after graduation.
Excellent software developers are a rare resource, As I once wrote, great international software products are developed only in five countries out of 196 .
This was a Catch-22 problem. Without potential employees, there are no Hi-Tech companies and without Hi-Tech companies there would be no employees.
To break this cycle, EMC and the Israeli government have decided to create a plan to change the momentum . The idea is to create a great innovation center, that would allow smart, motivated employees to generate a great product in the south of Israel.
There were quite a few challenges to deal with :
* Lack of the common infrastructure that exists in the center of Israel.For example, recruiting companies, IT professionals, catering services a training.
* Missile attacks :( . We had probably one of the very few software development centers in the world that had a missile attack targeted at their city every 4-6 months.
An interesting anecdote is that our employees actually felt they have the best physical security in all of the global offices.
* A relatively small pool of mid level and senior level managers.
The reason for success lies first and for most in the great employees we recruited and the support of the University, the local Mayor and EMC headquarters.
The employees in Beer Sheva created a great sense of community and belonging from the very beginning.
Our strategy , unlike previous “outsourcing” concepts, was to treat the center equally to the main office in “Herzelia“.
We offered the same high profile projects and set the same high bar for recruiting, but also offered similar compensation.
The results were wonderful : an amazing acceptance rate for job offers, very fast recruiting and motivated top talent showing fast results.
With the assistance of local community leaders were able to promote a Hi-Tech environment around us as well:
* Multiple research projects with Ben Gurion University, focused on Big Data, Storage and High-End Performance
* First “Start-Up” weekend in Beer Sheva
* “Software in the Negev” meetup group
* Consulting and contribution to MOD move to the south os Israel
At the professional level we focused on few domains:
* High Availability
* Flash Technology and Products
* Data Science and machine learning
* Applied Research in High Performance storage
It was important to focus on few areas, on one hand, and create some diversity on the other hand.
After two years the center has far exceeded it’s original goals in capacity and quality.
It is a core anchor to the Hi-Tech in the south. On July it would be moving to the first company new Hi-Tech park.
The first building has been sold out , and has completely modern “Herzelia\Palo Alto” level of facilities.
I’m moving to a new adventure about 16,000 miles away ,but will keep watching as Maya,Orna,Niva, Oz, Nir and the rest of the team make it much better, bigger and successful!
It was one of the most enjoyable projects I worked in and I’m very proud to have been part of the great team of people.