The combination between a foreign CEO and an international company but Israeli in its milieu, which is in a crisis, is apparently not a winning combination.
Ousted Teva CEO Jeremy Levin came from America with a glorious record of senior executive roles in international pharmaceutical companies, and with an American aroma allegedly suited to a global company which is a leader in its field, with extensive activity in the United States and shares traded on Wall Street.
Unfortunately for Levin, Teva may be global but its headquarters, management and employees are based in in Israel. Levin failed to integrate into Teva's DNA and fundamental Israeli culture. His foreignness stood out in particular in the picture with Histadrut Chairman Ofer Eini, cramped and frozen in his suit during the discussion on the company's layoffs.
It was not easy for Levin to find his place in a company designed in the image of (late Chairman and CEO) Eli Hurvitz, whose agenda included maintaining Teva's Israeliness, or to succeed (former CEO) Shlomo Yanai, who came with a battle heritage from his military past.
Eldad Tamir, one of the owners of the Tamir Fishman investment group, said last week that "Levin entered a difficult situation. The need for a cultural and communicational connection to the Israeli society is critical for Teva. This company is among the cornerstones of the local industry and its products can be found in every home.
"Teva had an open relationship with its investors, employees and the Israeli society. Instead of continuing the cultural tradition they brought someone else, and it didn't work. There was no continuity for the rootedness. Everything became cold and alienated. Teva needs a local leader."
Levin is not the first beaten foreign CEO. In Shufersal, Chief Business Manager Richard Hunter did speak Hebrew but was discharged quite quickly. Italian Angelo Trocchia, the first foreign CEO brought by Unilever to Israel, left earlier than planned as well.