Personal interview with Shamir Optics CEO – Yagen Moshe
In business dealings, I always try to achieve a balance between toughness, decisiveness and sensitivity to my environment. In my private life, I give more space to my emotions and try to be present and attentive.
About my family
On my mother’s side, there is my 96-year old grandmother, the scion of an influential family who became wealthy from the cloth trade in Iraq, and my late grandfather, who were distantly related. In 1951, they made aliyah to Israel and managed to hide away their gold rings when leaving Iraq. Upon arriving in Israel, they spent a short time in the Salame maabara. They then bought the “Pasha Fashion Store” and a house of their own soon after.
My father had a difficult childhood in Iraq. After my grandfather was killed in a work accident, my father was forced to work in a printing shop and to raise pigeons, just like in Sami Michael’s novel. His family made aliyah to Israel when he was 14 and he was sent to school straight away. He finished high school and enlisted in the army at age 17. When my father was released from his army service, he started working in the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper and met my mother on a bus to Ramat Gan at age 18. They soon got married and settled in Petah Tikva. He studied building contracting in the evenings, worked independently and was financially stable. My mother studied art and literature. She went on to be a kindergarten teacher and had four children. I’m the baby of the family.
Petah Tikva Our economic situation was good. I would come home from school and immediately go with friends to play outside. I played soccer in Maccabi Petah Tikva F.C. and to this day I’m still a fan of the team. I attended theater classes, but my father didn’t want me to study in the Thelma Yellin High School for the Arts. In his view, I had to be a lawyer or a CPA, otherwise, I’d be a failure. So I went to work and studied computers and electronics. I dreamed of being an actor and performed up until I was 18. The acting bug has never left me though, even after all these years. Despite some nostalgia that I have for not fulfilling my dreams in this field, I’m not sorry for anything. Even in front of my employees, the sense of acting has never left me.
After serving in an airborne ground contact unit in the IDF and my post-army trip, I enrolled in The College of Management Academic Studies to study accounting. Since I wouldn’t accept money from my father, I worked as a stock boy at Super-Pharm. I was then promoted to managing diapers and feminine products. After this, I worked at a small accounting firm. I interned at Kost Forer Gabbay. After then staying there for five years, I had to decide if I was going to continue there or run an organization.
Guy Eliav, whom I knew through accounting, took me on at Tapuz as a financial officer where I entered a particularly challenging period, with a bunch of inexperienced young people. We failed because we didn’t understand the world of finance and management and had no financial backing. After two years, when Ilan Ben Dov did us a favor by buying the company, I went on a six-month trip to Australia and New Zealand. When I came back to Israel, I opened a computer and saw that Guy had entered my details into a dating site that Tapuz had established. The first message that I received was from a certain Keren Or. I was accepted into a job as an accountant at Comsk, an information security company.
My wife is an artist and a carpenter. She refurbishes and makes furniture. She is my partner in everything that I do. We are raising three children together. Thanks to her, I can be anywhere in the world and succeed, and shareholders recognize this. We live in Singapore now. When I’m here in Israel one week every month, she manages everything there.
Shamir Optical Industry Ltd.
After four years in Comsk, Keren wanted to move to the north of Israel, so I started looking for work there. A friend of mine who was involved in Shamir offerings arranged a job for me there as the CFO. Keren and I rented an apartment in Kibbutz Snir. We were sure that we would stay there for a year or two, but we’ve been there for 15 years. We were sent to Singapore in mid-2014, and a year ago I was appointed as the CEO.
The company develops, manufactures, markets and sells eyewear lenses to opticians through stores and optics networks, according to a patient-adjusted prescription, with 97% of its revenues coming from operations outside Israel. We own about 30 companies across the globe, either wholly or jointly. We recently launched “Learning Lenses”, which is based on data collected from our customers around the world in order to enhance and improve customer adjustments.
We’ve been living there for five years already. Since the family has grown attached to the country, I was assured that I could stay in Singapore as the CEO as well. I’ve been living on airplanes for years now. Most of the HQ sits here in Israel. Development is divided around Kibbutz Shamir, other parts of Israel, Singapore and the globe. We don’t shy away from our Israeli character. On the contrary!
I work out every day. I love scuba diving with the whole family at amazing sites all across the world.
I knew that the first two years in the job would be difficult. When I become more stabilized, I could implement our strategic plans. When the kids grow up a little more, we’ll return to Israel.