ZIM was founded in 1945 and today is one of the world’s leading container shipping companies, with operations at 120 ports in 50 countries, and with a team of over 4,000 employees. In 2004, the government sold its holdings in ZIM to Israel Corporation. In July 2014, ZIM experienced serious financial difficulty, following which Israel Corporation entered into debt restructuring with its creditors.
Although ZIM is a global operation, most of the time its management was made up solely of Israelis. In the summer of 2017, ZIM’s board of directors, which included representatives of the creditors decided to challenge this tradition and find a CFO overseas, someone with experience in the shipping industry and first-hand familiarity with banks in Europe. “It is easier to hire and integrate Israelis in management of a company with headquarters in Israel than to find talented managers overseas who will fit in with the local culture and also agree to relocate to Israel,” said Eli Glickman, CEO of ZIM, during our conversation. Following this decision by the board of directors, Eli Glickman reached out to Gisha Shona when looking for a global placement agency with partnerships in Israel.
A challenge, no doubt! After all, beyond all the job requirements, there are only 12 shipping companies in the world.
During this period, we joined forces with Spencer Stuart, one of the world’s top four Executive Search and Leadership Advisory companies.
It was our first opportunity to work as partners. Spencer Stuart assigned Geneva-based Antonio Maturo, their finance content expert in Europe, who brought with him over 17 years of experience in the field of finance. We set out together, highly motivated to succeed, yet skeptical about whether it was possible.
And it happened!!! In a process that lasted less than three months, Spencer Stuart found several candidates, one of whom matched our requirements to a T and was even willing to come live in Israel. Xavier, originally French, with many years of experience in the shipping industry, had lived in London in recent years, after a lengthy career in Asia and Europe.
After responding positively to the opportunity, he came to Israel for a round of interviews and fell in love with what he saw. They told him that he would be working out of Haifa, and not Tel Aviv, and that it was important that he live somewhere relatively close. He chose Caesarea and during Passover 2018 he performed his own personal Exodus and came to work in Israel.
Today, more than a year later, he is happy and so is the company. He came on board during a period of numerous financial challenges, and he quickly fit right in as a partner in the work to be done. “He is doing outstanding work, is committed and is a good fit for the culture. He has exceeded all our expectations,” said Eli Glickman, CEO of ZIM.
Xavier is finding his job interesting and pleasant. He feels that he is both contributing and learning. He is truly enjoying his work with Glickman and is drawing a great deal of inspiration from him. Xavier’s experience and abilities have provided value to ZIM and contributed significantly to addressing the financial challenges.
This process has taught us the meaning of working with a global executive search company with 56 offices worldwide and, for Spencer Stuart, it was their first opportunity to work with an Israeli customer and partner.
During the process, we worked closely with Antonio, who managed everything from Geneva. We were able to engage in deep conversations and laugh at and with each other. There was linguistic and cultural respect and as well as mutual professional respect. There was also competition and partnership, and most importantly, we worked jointly towards the same goal.
And how did we overcome cultural gaps? Through lots of discussion, uncompromising questions and answers that were not evasive. The success of the process proved that our advantage in learning about the organization and many years of experience with the Israeli market, together with Spencer Stuart’s global abilities and precision, provided a comprehensive professional package for filling the management spot that was missing at ZIM.
Eli Glickman, thank you for the opportunity.