Israeli Businessman Uzi de Haan Speaks to MBA Global Strategy Class
Students in management and organization lecturer Paulo Prochno’s Global Strategy
class received a special guest lecture from Israeli professor and former Philips
Israel CEO Dr. Uzi de Haan, on Thursday, October 2, 2008. De Haan discussed
his experiences at Philips and provided an overview of the current business climate
De Haan’s rich educational background began at the University of Delft, Holland,
where he studied aeronautical engineering. He received his Masters of Science and
Doctorate of Science at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in industrial
engineering and behavioral sciences, respectively.
De Haan worked at Philips Israel for 27 years and worked his way up to CEO, building
a $350 million company and research and development (R&D) base through acquisitions,
venture investments, and organic growth. He returned to the Technion in 2003 as
professor at the William Davidson School of Industrial Engineering and Management,
where his main research focus is Entrepreneurship and Strategic Management
his remarks, de Haan noted that Philips is a truly multinational company – somewhat
surprisingly, the most-spoken language inside Philips is Chinese. According to de
Haan, the major challenge facing multinational corporations is that they must manage
and change weaknesses on one hand, while leveraging path-dependent core competencies
on the other.
Philips, founded and headquartered in the Netherlands, is one of the largest
electronic companies in the world, with over 128,000 employees in 60 countries.
Philips’ mission is to improve the quality of people’s lives through timely introduction
of meaningful innovations. “At Philips, people, culture, and governance are the
key enablers for success,” said de Haan.
De Haan discussed the major changes Philips had undergone in recent years. An
annual price erosion of 7% has led to restructuring of Philips’ key businesses.
Additionally, the scope of Philips’ operational focus and customer base has shifted
from local to global.
In addition to his overview of Philips, de Haan also provided a macro assessment
of the business environment in Israel. Since the 1990s, growth of Israel’s GDP has
been driven by the high-tech sector. Though the total dollar amount spent on R&D
nationally in Israel is low in absolute terms, R&D makes up 4.8% of Israel’s
total GDP – the highest per capita figure in the world. “I was surprised to learn
that Israel is second to only the Silicon Valley area in terms of venture capital
start-ups invested in,” said second-year MBA student Asma Mirza.
De Haan concluded his remarks by citing two key takeaways about doing business
in Israel. The first is that informality and risk taking are endemic to Israeli
culture. The second is that globalization is central to success in Israel, as businesses
have no choice but to go global from their inception due to the small size of Israel.
Pete Baird, MBA Candidate 2009, Smith Media Group