Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Israel – CCLXIV. A Permanent Job (2 of 12)

We are all subject to the constraints imposed by our own personality.  We all have peculiarities that make us unique.  A corporation or an institution will include a “mix” of these various personalities; and its performance will depend on how sound that mix is.

At the individual level, accomplishments will depend on how a person integrate himself into the whole; we call that corporate culture; and culture is really a catch-all expression to capture the myriad of actions that had evolved over time and made that culture unique to this entity.

My problem at this stage of my life was that I was slow to come out of the gate.  As a result, I did not make a good impression at the beginning; and Israel Aircraft Industry (IAI) must have wondered if I was a good fit.  Lucky for me, this was a crown corporation and they could afford to wait until my performance improved.  Indeed they would have to wait for close to two years!

Eventually, my education and the experience acquired allowed me to contribute; and this happily occurred when a major technological revolution was taking place.

I started my career at IAI in the Production Control department.  Simply put, the work consisted of providing all manufacturing activities with a sense of direction; in turn, the path taken depended on the original plans.  Coordination was a central activity; today I remember my work as telling section B what A needed from them, and to keep in mind that C was out of step, and how that impacted production.  Finally, timing, quality, and cost were factors that hovered over the whole process.

It sounds complex, but actually it wasn’t.  A well-beaten path was followed.  It comes across as critical, again it wasn’t.  It was important, but we certainly were not the captain of the ship!  Many other players were involved; they provided insurance if we erred.

Let me further pare down the above job description. I worked with two other individuals, Yossi and Gal, in a field office that was located on the floor where the actual work was taking place; simply put, we kept our finger on the pulse; finally, we reported the findings related to our area to the upper echelons of the department.

Yossi was the manager and his assistant Gal became my supervisor.  They were two of the nicest and most patient co-workers I have had a chance to associate with.  Gal spent the best part of the morning explaining to me what our areas of responsibility were, and how they interacted with the rest of the department and IAI.  Rarely can an individual simplify an intricate task to such an extent.  I did understand most of what he said; retaining the whole thing was certainly not expected from me.

I was invited to ask any questions that came to mind; the one question that I remember after all these years related to an aircraft that was just outside our office:  “How come it has no propellers?”  The obvious answer was that it was a jet plane.  Now jets had been around for many years, but at the time they were still uncommon.  I was then provided with details about both types of planes.  Yossi concluded by saying:  “Jet planes are the wave of the future, one day we will all fly exclusively on jets.”  Yossi of course could not have prophesied the birth of the behemoths that routinely take to the sky today.

The rest of the day was spent learning about what my duties would be.

There was a big felt board with colored pins on it.  I was expected to get information from foremen on the floor, take notes, and move the pins around according to where a task was at.  There were also a number of graphs that I was supposed to continually update.  Simple?  Not really.

People in the manufacturing area were very busy.  “Come later,” was a common response.  As well, the information provided was to be taken with a grain of salt.  For instance, you may be told, “all what’s left is to paint the aircraft.”  The next thing to do is to look at the plane; if its innards are lying on the floor, it is obviously very far from the paint stage!

You get the picture.  The job required a strong individual who doesn’t get intimidated easily.  Alas, at the time, I was young, inexperienced, and shy.

Many years later I would work as a professional auditor, a job that called for a forceful person who can address and resolve all the problems that came his way.  And I became that person.  I was sure of myself; self-reliant; and able to differentiate between fact and fiction; the improbable stories I heard can fill a fairy tales book!

If we could telescope the future with the past, I would have done very well in that position.  But that being impossible, Yossi had a problem on his hands.

Yossi liked the fact that I was accurate to a fault; that was very important to him; forwarding the wrong information to management would have been, in some instances, quite disastrous.  He was able to save time since he didn’t need to closely review my work.  I was also able to think outside the box.  One day, I suggested that we take a picture of the board at the end of the day, that way if anybody (the cleaners for instance) displace the pins we do not have to work hard to reconstitute it.  It went beyond that.  Management liked the idea so much, they asked for pictures more than once a day!  They also asked for photocopies of the graphs.

The photography department came to hate us.  Remember those were the fifties and developing pictures was an intricate process.  Also when I talk of photocopying, I again describe an involved process that goes beyond pushing a button on a machine.  The idea spread to other departments, and hate turned to love.  Photography grew; the result:  more staff was hired, and the old employees were promoted.

All that was fine, but it did not resolve the problem I previously outlined.  The day came when Yossi told me that despite the fact that I had put my best foot forward, it wasn’t working.  But not to worry, there were plenty of other jobs available, and he was sure to find me another position.  And he did.

Throughout my four and half years in IAI I remained on good terms with Yossi and Gal.

[At the managerial and technical levels, many English terms were used; examples:  Production Control and the name of most spare parts.  The reason was that the manuals that guided us at IAI were in English; as well, consultants that came from abroad to help us spoke mostly English.  Discussions were of course in Hebrew, but it included English expressions as needed.]

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