By Alina Kilian
When I applied to HIPA, I expected to learn a lot about the financial industry and to develop my problem-solving skills on an international team. Now that HIPA is almost over, I can say that it has given me so much more.
HIPA(Hessian-Israel Partnership Accelerator) is a 3 month business challenge where Israeli and German students and young professionals team up to solve challenges faced by German companies in the financial service industry.
When we first met the Israeli participants in Frankfurt during the first week, we were overwhelmed by their energy and their expectation to create their own start-up, maybe even out of the HIPA challenge.
When we first met the Israeli participants in Frankfurt during the first week, we were overwhelmed by their energy and their expectation to create their own start-up, maybe even out of the HIPA challenge. It was funny how Karina and I (two of the German participants) did not have this expectation at all. It was the first time I experienced the “Start-Up Nation” mind-set. Right from the start we got along very well with our two Israeli teammates and had a fantastic time together in Frankfurt.
However, when it came to the teamwork-time, we also noticed cultural differences. Karina and I are typical German. We work in a very structured way and with the German mind-set: “business before pleasure”. The Israelis did great work, however, it took some time to understand their work ethic. We learned to not get annoyed when someone went to get a banana and went missing for 30 minutes. Sometimes it could be quite annoying, but when I look back I wish that I had a bit more of their serenity. All in all, we complemented each other very well and we were really looking forward to meeting again in Israel in just 5 weeks.
When I told my friends and family about my upcoming trip to Israel I got very diverse reactions. Some were super jealous and others could not understand how I could take “such a risk”. I was excited and it felt like a huge adventure to me. When I interviewed many of the Israelis in Frankfurt about the safety in Israel, they told me that they found the train station area in Frankfurt much scarier than most of Israel!
5 weeks later, I arrived in Israeli and I started to understand why Israelis do not feel insecure. After our visits to Google, CheckPoint, many startups and VCs from Be’er Sheva to Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, I was exposed to a new way of life. When I look back at the time in Israel there are some things that left a lasting impression on me.
- The food!
The whole week we had such amazing food (mainly the best hummus on earth!) and we tried to taste all culinary delights Israel has to offer.
- The people.
Maybe it’s because of the incredible weather, or it’s just their culture, but whenever we asked someone for the way or went to a Café, people were friendly and wanted to know more about where we were from and how we liked Israel (there are always exceptions but this was true for most of my experiences). Another factor that impressed me was how Judaism is not purely seen as a religion, but as a culture. It is much more part of everyday life than Christianity is in Germany. I was impressed that many youngsters take a gap year after high school to study Judaism. I don’t know a single person who did or would do something like that in Germany. I really felt how proud the Israelis (no matter if born and raised there or not) are of their culture, community and land, something we often lack in Germany.
I really felt how proud the Israelis are of their culture, community and land, something we often lack in Germany.
- The mindset.
Lastly, the business mind-set in Israel really fascinated me. Even if I could not hear the term “Start-Up Nation” at the end of the week anymore, I only noticed afterwards how much I learned about the country and the people just by learning about the way Israelis do business and how this differs from Germany. In Germany we are usually raised and educated to look for a safe job in a big company. Not a lot of people strive to become entrepreneurs. Also, we are not a nation where failure is regarded as something that is ok and normal. In Israel, I felt that nobody would judge your career-path as a failure, even if you are starting your third business after your first two failed.
In Israel, I felt that nobody would judge your career-path as a failure, even if you are starting your third business after your first two failed.
HIPA has been a very enriching experience and I am grateful for all the exciting places, people and inspiration. Schalom!