Israeli CEO Believes Good Business and Good Deeds Go Together

by Maxine Dovere
JointMedia News Service

NEW YORK – Efrat Peled, the Chief Executive Officer of Arison Investments, believes business is better when social responsibility and economic/environmental sustainability are part of the corporate equation.

Seated before an overflow crowd at the NASDAQ Marketplace in New York’s Times Square March 12, Peled spoke to the young leadership division of Israel Bonds and members of Dor Chadash, an Israeli American connectivity group for ages 40 and under.

Arison Investments, the business arm of The Arison Group – a privately held company operating in 38 countries on five continents – concentrates on fulfilling the basic human needs of large populations, and has enjoyed profitable returns while promoting a philosophy of moral responsibility and consideration of the environment, society and community.

Peled, still in her 30s, is responsible for the resuscitation of real estate and infrastructure group Shikun & Binui, and has helped build multi-national conglomerates, including Israel Salt Industries and Miya, a global urban water efficiency company. She develops ventures that yield high returns, adding significant value for the companies of the Arison Group. “You can do good things and good business together,” said Peled.

A qualified CPA, Peled holds an MBA from Kellog-Recanati, and sits on four major industrial or philanthropic boards. She was the only Israeli on Forbes Magazine’s 2009 list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women, is a member of both World Economic Forum’s Forum of Young Global Leaders and the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) LEAD Council.

Peled has a down-to-earth charm that cuts across boundaries. In conversation with former CNN and Fox anchor Laurie Dhue, she discussed the expansion and corporate philosophy of Arison Investments, stressing that “if you do the right thing … you can have a positive influence.”

She also spoke about the expansion of Miya, an Arison company dedicated to providing clean water to underserved urban populations. Established by Shari Arison, this international enterprise expands the capabilities of existing water utilities through efficient engineering solutions, improving existing infrastructure and maximizing system efficiency. Its projects save massive amounts of water (up to 80 percent in some systems) otherwise lost because of poorly built leaky municipal distribution systems. Miya helps 1.4 billion people in need of clean water.

Peled noted that Shari Arison promoted the concept of corporate responsibility well before the 2008 economic crash, and championed efficient use of resources and recognition of the human element­ – “sustainable moral values” – as “building blocks” of corporate success. Peled acknowledged that convincing and motivating upper management of these principles was difficult. “People were not used to talking about values in business,” she said.

During the presentation at NASDAQ, Peled noted the expansion of “Good Deeds Day,” a major annual charitable effort initiated by Shari Arison scheduled for March 25. Initially a local volunteer effort started in Israel in 2006, by 2011 the event had over 140,000 contributors.

Since Feb. 13, a joint promotion by the Arison Group and “Be Viacom” – through MTV and EMEA (MTV’s broadcast and online network in Europe, the Middle East and Africa) – has brought “Good Deeds Day” 2012 international recognition. The MTV promotion campaign will be heard in 40 countries across five continents.

“Good deeds of every type, large or small, are important,” said Peled. “Everybody can do something good.”

News of “good deeds” can be uploaded to the project’s website.

Good Deeds Day in Israel takes place tomorrow, March 20th.