Ofra Yasmin Strauss (Hebrew: עפרה יסמין שטראוס; born 22 August 1960) is an Israeli business magnate and industrialist. She is the Chairperson of Strauss Group, second largest food product manufacturer in Israel. Former Director General of the Strauss Group, she is third generation to the family business founders. Strauss Group credit ranks AA. It is traded on the Tel Aviv stock market with a total value of 6.2 billion USD; it’s annual circulation exceeds 1 billion USD. It is the employer of 14,000 employees worldwide. Strauss’ headquarters are located in Israel.
In 2005, Fortune Magazine listed her 42nd in its “Fortune Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs Most Powerful Women”. Strauss has been listed in the Fortune world list since 2003 ranged 42-47. In 2009-2010, the Financial Times ranked her 12th and 16th in the list of 50 leading women in the business world.
Laureate of the Israeli Industry Prize of the Manufacturers’ Association of Israel, in year 2000, food category.
President of the Israeli NGO Jasmine promoting Jewish and Arab Israeli women entrepreneurship. In June 2016, she stated in an interview that by 2020 half of Strauss’ management positions will be filled by women.
Since 2011 Strauss has been Chair of the American Chamber of Commerce, Israel.
Strauss was born in Nahariya, Israel. The eldest of three children of Ella (born: Thea-Rosa), a nurse, and Michael, a naval officer and milk technician, son of Hilda and Dr. Richard Strauss (PhD in economics and law), founders of the dairy family business. Strauss has a younger sister Irit (advertiser) and a younger brother (Adi, a businessman founder of “Adi’s lifestyle”).
Struass's mother Ella (born: 1935 in Yugoslavia) was six years old when her father was murdered by local Nazis. Her mother, Zlata, fled with her to Italy in the winter of 1941. After the war they immigrated to British mandate Palestine. Ella was a professional nurse and always stressed how important it was for a woman to obtain a profession and financial independence. In Nahariya she met Michael Strauss, the son of Hilda and Richard.
Ofra Strauss grew up in the family business. Her father Michael shared in an interview how, as an 11-year-old girl, she would always be the first to jump at the opportunity to join his night delivery route, during which she used to help carrying 20-kg containers of dairy products, listen to his business talks and follow carefully how many cartons are delivered and registered.
Strauss graduated (1987) from Tel Aviv University Law School. As a student, she met Dan Lahat, the son of then Tel Aviv mayor Shlomo Lahat and married him. During her studies, in 1985 her mother passed away.
Her first job in business world was earned in a job interview in the marketing department of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., the American cosmetic manufacturer and marketer of cosmetic products. During 1987-1989, her three years working in New York, Strauss led a major marketing proves of the company (in Japan).
In 1989, upon Strauss’ return to Israel, she integrated into the family business’ marketing department. Marketing director of the ice cream division and then head of the food division in the corporation, in 1993 Strauss was nominated director general of the Strauss salads company. Her activity focused on making new food categories strategic international partnerships and marked an inner revolution in the business model. On the same time, the Strauss company had major acquisitions.
In 1996, following the purchase of Elite by Strauss, which made Strauss the second largest food company in Israel and which she played a key role in, Ofra Strauss was nominated director general of Strauss-Elite. In 2001, Strauss was nominated Chairperson of the Strauss-Elite. The new Strauss dairy was inaugurated at the same time, becoming the largest dairy in the Middle East. During 2002-2004 Strauss led the corporation’s new vision incorporated in the process of merging Strauss-Elite into Strauss group.
Strauss activity is characterized by developing international partnerships. Strauss has developed such strategic partnerships with Danone, PepsiCo, Haier, São Miguel and Virgin. Categories include of dairy, coffee, water, dips and spreads. The partnership with PepsiCo also created the US-based Sabra Dipping Company, since 2009 the largest hummus manufacturer worldwide. Strauss Coffee is the fourth largest coffee company in the world. Strauss activity covers 22 states. Among which are USA, Russia, China, Europe and Brazil.
Food tech and innovation
Food tech and innovation have been a key growth engine of Strauss. Through which issues of global challenge of obesity on one hand and scarcest access to water and hunger on the other hand, are addressed.
Family Business History
In 1936, Strauss's grandparents Hilda and Richard fled their hometown Ulm in Nazi Germany and immigrated to Mandatory Palestine. Their choice of destination was derived from Zionism and made a drastic change in lifestyle. They left families who were pillars of the local Jewish community and owners of a steel factory and trade business. They first arrived in the southern village Beer Tuvia, near the Negev desert, where Richard made a living driving his car, the only property shipped, as a taxi. It was there that he got acquainted with dairy farms and with no previous experience decided this should be his professional future. Hilda and Richard sold the car, moved to the north and bought two cows which, living in their back yard, were the beginning of the dairy business.
Gender Equality Commitment
- President of the Jasmine NGO http://jasmine.org.il/ promoting Jewish and Arab Israeli women entrepreneurship.
- In 2008 Strauss launched the Israeli Catalyst census of women in corporate/public company boards – taking after the global Catalyst organization.
- Member of the ICWBL – International Council on Women’s Business Leadership founded by Hillary Clinton.
- Former chair of WIZO Women’s International Zionist Organization fundraising.
In an interview (June 2016) Strauss addressed the subject of gender and said that fixing inequality required time and adjustments including in education, legalization and regulation. She stated that by year 2020 Strauss management’s positions will be equall genderwise. Strauss acknowledged Estee Lauder, the Jasmin NGO, Hillary Clinton and Sheryl Sandberg as milestones in her journey.
Strauss founded a scholarship program named after Hilda Strauss, grandmother and co-founder of the family business. An activist in the local Soroptimist club in Nahariya fostering women entrepreneurship; Hilda worked in equal partnership with her spouse in the family business. Strauss admired Zionist philosopher Theodor Herzl.
Zionism and Community Engagement
- A Board member of HESEG Israeli Foundation for Former Lone Soldiers who came from diaspora with their families and now build their future in Israel.
- A Board member of the Taub Center for social policy studies in Israel research of social policy in Israel
- During the 2000’a Strauss has led “Together at Home” project for integration and absorption of newcomers from Ethiopia in Israel with the Jewish Agency As well as the “AMEZ LOHEM” project
- Founder of the Israeli MAALA CSR and Corporate Governance Forum
Honors and Awards
Laureate of the BDIcode Prize in 2007
The Israel Industry Prize for year 2000
Ofra Strauss was awarded with for – “appreciating exceptional managing skills, constant and persistent activity making Elite Industries a profitable growing corporation which is active worldwide and becoming so thanks to leading complex processes of business strategy, organizational and structural changes derived from it and outlining original marketing policies and programs. In addition to these the prize acknowledges prolific activity in the community and education field and the humanitarian and public sphere, carried out in a manner which evokes respect and appreciation.”
Strauss is a mother of four. Michaela, photographer, Tom, co-founder of design start-up Tailor Brands and Jasmine, education officer, are her three children from her first marriage to Dan Lahat. Daniel is her daughter from her second marriage to Adi Keizmann.
- "Curriculum vitae - O. Strauss" (PDF). Retrieved June 23, 2006.
- "Ofra Strauss-Lahat". CNN. Retrieved June 23, 2006.
- "President of Jasmine Organization".
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