A new Podcast: Adi Ofek talks about team spirit and leading culture

Israel is the country of startup dreams, Tel Aviv the capital city where most of the magic happens! Creating something from nothing is everything here. The excitement for finding solutions is the force that drives me every day and inspires me within my job as the head of  Mercedes-Benz Research and Development Tel Aviv. Here and in our Daimler-Podcast “HeadLights” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts I tell you how I can find the best people for my team and what our daily business looks like.

The startup community is young and creative and so are we: Our Mercedes-Benz Tech Center in Tel Aviv was officially launched at the end of 2017 and we are a small and dynamic team of currently around 20 people. Our main work focuses on digital connected vehicles and mobility services.

We have two legs to our site: One is innovation, where we work with a lot of different startups that cover all areas of our case strategy. The second leg is Research and Development. Here we focus on software development, Authentication and keeping our vehicles safe.

Adi Ofek explains how to find the best employees

The personal connection within my team is very important to me. So I would like to give you some insights about how we try to find new colleagues that share similar mindsets and can become part of our Mercedes-Benz TLV family.

The best way to find good employees is not through headhunters or job postings. We believe in the concept of hiring friends from our employees, or old colleagues they already worked with. There are several advantages in choosing the people that way:

The most important one is probably trust. If you already know your colleagues, you can better rely and count on them. When you bring your friend into our company, you already know whether he or she fits into our team and you are aware of their values and performance levels. All of this reduces the unknown, which is very tricky especially when you only have the possibility to rely on the interviews while screening for new positions.

At the same time I learned as an executive in Israel, that not only the candidates apply for a job – you as a company have to apply for the candidates, too! When you interview, make sure you tell the candidates what’s in it for them and care about what they are looking for. What can you offer them as a company and team leader?

Employees nowadays don’t just seek for a good job and a good wage. It’s a great purpose and the ability to learn and grow that makes a job attractive to them. That’s why I never sell what I don’t have in job interviews. Authenticity is key and we really have open conversations with the candidates about the challenges that we need to face together if we work together.

Good leading culture through feedback

As a company we can only be successful when we work as a team, so I am not a big fan of strict hierarchies. My way of leading in one sentence? Giving and receiving feedback is key! Otherwise how would you know that you’re going in the right direction? Making mistakes can be quiet painful, however it also gives you the chance to learn, develop, get back on your feet and move on.

At the same time I believe that people are not going to be great if they become better at their weaknesses. Usually you don’t turn a weakness into a strength, although you should never stop trying to improve and not let your weaknesses hold you back. So when I give feedback to my team members I try to make them shine from their strengths. I focus on “What is your talent, what do you do well and how can you do it even better?”

Another very important aspect in leading a team is trust, which is also strongly connected to feedback. In the world of today, giving just instructions doesn’t work. Inspire your team, make them believe in the targets and then let them walk their own way and choose their own paths and ways of working on the subject.

As long as we work with the same values, drive and passion, it’s fine that you do it your way, in your own pacing. People learn mostly, and that includes me, from consequences. The more difficult the situation becomes, the more communication is needed anyway, but more in the way of feedback afterwards. Not from being told. Don’t preach too much, just let them fail, let them learn, help them grow.

I also raise my kids this way: I trust them and although they might fall I am sure they’ll get up again and learn from the experience. And that’s what I am here for: Support my team and the company to work hard to reach their goals, but also focus on their strengths.

When I look into the future I see our footprint on our products and services. And also, in general, I believe in development and growth. I believe that if the people around you grow, the company will grow and develop as well.


Listen to, subscribe, and rate our podcast “HeadLights” on the following platforms: Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts

Adi Ofek is the CEO of our Mercedes-Benz Tech Hub in Tel Aviv. In April 2000 she joined Daimler as the first female employee of Daimler Financial Services in Israel. In 2007 Adi then went to Singapore for six years, where she was Regional Credit Operations Director, and responsible for the Africa and Asia/Pacific regions. She spent three further years in South Korea as CEO of Mercedes-Benz Financial Services. Her passion is getting multinational teams to achieve top performance. Adi is also the mother of two children, Roy – 17 years old, and Maya, aged 12.