Whatâ€™s the point of living in a small country if you canâ€™t all get to know each other?
Young Professionals in Policy, or â€œYP2â€ (pronounced â€˜Y-P-squaredâ€™) is a growing community for up-and-coming professionals in the fields of security, politics, journalism, and foreign policy in Israel. In contrast to the gravity of the subject matter discussed at a YP2 session, the panels and workshops are supposed to be fun, mixing the intellectual and pragmatic with a bit of good-natured playtime (think: serious panel discussion, followed by wine, home-baked cookies, and a pinball machine. If you think about it, makes networking a lot easier!). Since about half the members are Israeli and half are immigrants, the events alternate between Hebrew and English each month.
YP2 Director Jessica Snapper, originally from the United States with a background in national security policy, explains the concept behind the initiative: â€œAs part of the same dynamic ecosystem, we should all be well-acquainted and well-connected to help each other get ahead. We might be competing for jobs at times, or differing in regards to politics, but lets not forget that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, especially in a small country like Israel.â€
What makes YP2 unusual is an interactive feedback mechanism that gives participants the opportunity to in essence build their own group. At the end of each event, Snapper passes around the â€œfeedback boxâ€ so that the audience can respond: What did they think of the event? Was it useful for their profession? What did they get out of the speakers? (And most importantly) What kind of event would you like to see in the future?
â€œWe had a brainstorming session at a hotel in Tel Aviv with about 60 people recently, and one of the things participants requested were â€˜mid-rangeâ€™ speakers whose career experience was just a few years ahead of the young professionals audience. People who were considered highly successful in their careers, but would be more accessible and open to giving candid advice. â€˜Big fishâ€™ speakers â€“ like a Knesset Member or former director of the Mossad â€“ can be difficult to relate to and usually speak in groups that are too large to have more intimate discussions.â€
With this in mind, Snapper set out to create a panel of former Knesset advisors who have led successful careers into the private sector, titling the panel â€œThe Public-Private Sector Interface in Israel.â€ Even though the majority of YP2 members are post-graduates already working in their respective policy-related fields, the panel attracted a variety of participants, including university students, CEOs, and academics.
Yoni Itzhak is currently the Client Vice President of BBDO IM (Issue Management), the strategic consulting firm of Gitam, a leading marketing agency in Israel. Miri Shaul manages communications at the Paz Group with a specialty in overcoming regulatory barriers to energy regulation. Linor Deutsch, who says she has been â€œpolitically involved since a young age,â€ left the Knesset to take the position of Vice President of Regulation and the Legal Advisor of the Farmers Association in Israel. Half the panel is spent letting the speakers tell their personal career stories in detail; the second half is a lively discussion on the â€œpublic-private sector interfaceâ€ topic. The speakers are feisty, straightforward, and humorous as they interact with the audience. The feedback from the participants seems promising:
– â€œReally interesting speakers with useful tips, opened up my head . . . But sometimes they spoke too fast!â€
– â€œDo a creative tour of the Knesset. Iâ€™ll find you the right MK to speak.â€
– â€œIâ€™d be interested in hearing next time about the realm between policy and academia. Would include think tanks.â€
– â€œGreat cookies!â€