Ornit Avidar Rarely switches off from her job as the Israeli Consulate's commercial attache. Five third-generation mobile-phone service providers from Israel have based their Asian operations in Hong Kong this year. That is two more than the new arrivals in 2000, at the height of the Internet frenzy. At least two more hi-tech companies are arriving early next year. There are currently about 50 Israeli companies with headquarters in Hong Kong. Most are hi-tech groups, but many are diamond cutting operations. According to Ms Avidar, diamond cutting is big business in Israel and, after 15 years of hi-tech development, 'Israel is considered to be the second Silicon Valley'. Ms Avidar tells The Informer about her job and discusses the determination of Israeli companies to make it in Hong Kong. Q: What is driving the increase in Israeli headquarters in Hong Kong? A: Israeli companies, especially in the hi-tech field, see Asia as their new market and have been focusing on it for the last two years. Therefore, they have to open offices and headquarters in the region and feel that Hong Kong is best situated for this task. This is true for several reasons: geographical convenience, being close to the China buzz; Hong Kong's advantage as a centre for finance and media; and its legal system. Israeli companies are also very family-oriented and it is crucial for the Israeli employee to know that his spouse and children are happy and well off. They know that this is the case if they situate themselves here. Q: How long have you been the commercial attache at the consulate and what are your main duties? A: I joined the Israeli Ministry of Industry and Trade around five years ago and have been in Hong Kong for the last year and a bit. As commercial attache, my job is to promote mutual trade ties between Hong Kong and Israeli companies. My mission here is to encourage ties between Israeli companies and Hong Kong companies for the penetration of the vast China market. We feel that Israeli technology, Hong Kong finance and connections and the China market are a winning combination. Q: How busy are you? A: I am tremendously busy and so is my office, as are the representatives of the Israeli companies. We have endless exhibitions in Hong Kong. Our business inquiries went up by 50 per cent in the last couple of months and nine new companies opened up this year in Hong Kong. For an economic situation where companies are closing down every day worldwide, this is quite an accomplishment. Q: How do you switch off from your work? A: I don't. But since that sounds so sad, what I really do is read a story to my three-year-old, do homework with my 10-year-old and help my 12-year-old study lines for her plays. That is what I really enjoy. A nice glass of wine once in a while with my husband, all by ourselves, is also something that I treasure. Q: What kind of work did you do before you came to Hong Kong? A: Before Hong Kong I worked in Qatar in the Arabian Gulf - as commercial attache. It was so similar yet so different. Before joining the civil service I was chief executive officer for a start-up called Delta 3 Israel. Q: What is it about your job that you enjoy or dislike? A: I love to represent my country. I am proud that we have so much to offer. I also love to meet new people and to work with them. In general, I dislike that Israel is constantly associated with war. Q: What is the most important business lesson you have learnt? A: That people make business happen and the key to any successful business partnership is the chemistry and eventually the friendships that evolve. Q: If you could turn back the clock, what would you change? A: I like things as they are and I never look back. Q: What are the best qualities you have for this job? A: Persistence. If I think something is right, I will keep going for it until I make it happen. Q: How do you cope with the troubles and violence in Israel? A: It is very difficult to look at all the difficulties and tragedies that my country is going through from afar. But what keeps me going is knowing that peace is inevitable. Q: What are the strengths Israeli businesses have that can make them a success in the Asia-Pacific region? A: Our innovation is the main factor. Secondly, the Israeli people's determination. We really believe there is no software or interface problem we can not solve. It is just a matter of time and commitment. Q: What is your motto in life? A: I actually have two mottos: Do the best you can in any given moment and then you will be satisfied with the results. Be responsible and take best care for those you love and it will create a greater circle of good.