In the spotlight: Israel Marketing Association’s Talma Biro
Meet Talma, CEO of the Israel Marketing Association
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I was born and raised in… Tel Aviv. This vibrant city and its coastline have had a great influence on me as a person; I'm a city mouse in essence. My father was a banker and my mother a housewife. I remember having a happy childhood in a culturally rich and loving home, full of music and the arts on the one hand, a lot of hugs and laughter on the other.
I studied to become a… lawyer. I studied law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem after completing my military service in the Israel Air Force (a wonderful time in my life!). I was fascinated by the world of law and legislation. In the university corridors, on Mount Scopus, I met my husband John.
Right after we got married, we moved to New York City where John studied for a second degree in law at Columbia University. Upon completing his studies, he began working for a large law firm in Park Avenue while I worked as a jurist at the Israel Discount Bank (IDB) in midtown Manhattan. Our first son was born in NYC. His sister and brother joined him later on in Tel Aviv.
Upon returning to Israel, I joined IDB where I started working as a lawyer. I was soon attracted to the business world and joined the bank’s insurance arm, which provided business-industrial insurance advice to the group’s clientele of large and diverse enterprises. I had no connection, for many years, to marketing or advertising.
I started in the advertising/marketing industry… after many years of working in legal and the insurance business. I decided to take some time off when I left IDB and received a proposal in 2003 to head the Israel Marketing Association. I decided to jump into the water and get to know the industry from the inside.
When I joined, the organisation was full of good people and good intentions but was also a bit slow and sleepy. I quickly put my experience as a manager to good use and set a new goal for the organisation: to be the professional home of all the advertising people in Israel, but also to the marketing people. And the rest is history.
My proudest career achievement… I can say, with all modesty, that the always-on-the-run Israel Marketing Association today in 2019 has no similarity whatsoever with the sleepy association I joined back in 2003. Today, our organisation has about 220 companies in membership and is more dynamic and active than ever before. We organise several trainings and meetings on marketing issues every year, as well as competitions and awards, conferences and seminars. Most of all, our members enjoy "unit pride" and a sense of belonging and community. We are the voice and home of marketers in Israel.
Our priorities are… to rebuild trust in our industry, to promote marketers’ interests, to develop the profession for the marketing masters of tomorrow, to help strengthen the marketing function within organisations, and to deepen the business world’s awareness that marketers are the ones who implement and lead the brand and marketing strategy within organisations.
Challenges in the marketing industry in my country are… so many... such as the implementation of marketing restrictions on HFSS products (foods and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt) and the lack of transparency in the advertising chain, to name a few. But in my eyes, the biggest challenge we as an industry are facing in Israel and around the world today is the increasing and emerging issues with regards to digital platforms’ Google and Facebook in the world of advertising and marketing.
If I could change one thing about the industry today… I would set threshold conditions for anyone who wants to get into marketing – be curious, be analytical, and have a passion for technology. Without these three essential characteristics, marketing will cease to exist.
What most people don’t know about me is… I am a heavy consumer of art of all kinds – theatre, art exhibitions, dance, classical and modern music. In addition, I get infinite pleasure and creativity in cooking. Put me in a kitchen with the right ingredients and the right music in the background and I'm the happiest woman on earth.
Four things about my country…
- Israel has the third highest rate of entrepreneurship – and the highest rate among women and among people over 55 years old – in the world.
- Israel has the second most number of Noble Price winners per capita and is the third most educated country in the world.
- Israel is home to some of the world’s most brilliant minds and is well-known as the “Start-up Nation”. With more than 3,000 tech companies and start-ups, Israel has one of the highest concentrations of tech companies in the world.
- There are over 100 sushi restaurants in Tel Aviv, making it the city with the most sushi restaurants per capita after Tokyo and NYC.
Want to know more about Talma and the Israel Marketing Association? Get in touch with her here.
This is part of a series of monthly interviews with heads of national advertiser associations in WFA membership.