End Quote: Giora Romm '82

The Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel

written by Paul Feinberg


In an interview with you from 2002, you said that you knew you wanted to be a fighter pilot as early as your teens. You attained that goal quickly, and obviously found great success. What led you to pursue an MBA? 

Being a pilot was the premise for what evolved into a series of positions in the highest echelons of the air force and the military. A modern air force is a complex organization, using the most advanced technologies, very intelligent people and usually a huge budget. As such, my positions required ever more sophisticated managerial capabilities. I got that from UCLA Anderson and have made extensive use of it over the years.

How did your years of active combat prepare you to be in a directorial position within the military? 

A tremendous amount of work and leadership are required in order to be a significant player in an active squadron. It's a very competitive community. The selection of those who will climb the ladder of command posts is based on their ability to demonstrate-in addition to excellent flying capabilities-the attributes of a leader. 

You wrote an autobiographical book called Tulip Four that describes your harrowing experience as a POW in Egypt, and how you found strength and purpose in the wake of that experience. Can you share a few key lessons that you'd encourage ambitious young people to keep in mind as they embark on their careers and life journeys? 

Being a POW is like falling from the wood bar in the final round at the Olympic Games. What they do, those magnificent gymnasts, is to stand up, not blaming anyone, jump again on the bar, and accomplish the exercises they were trained for during the four years before the games. To be a POW is to fall  from the wood bar of your life, of your dreams. To climb back and to continue the struggle to be as good as you wanted before you fell, this is the real thing. Almost every one, at a certain point in life, falls from the bar. One should prepare himself not to give up but to continue the fight, if you want to make a difference in the world.

You are now the director of Israel's Civil Aviation Authority (your FAA). How does your military experience translate to a role where you're serving your country's whole civilian population? 

My military experience, and my air force experience in particular, gave me the best school for a systematic way of thinking, of comparing alternatives and above all, of leading people in a way that helps them to strive for great achievements. In addition, one has to acquire the secret of decision-making-the method, the timing, the "marketing" to the stakeholders, and then the resolve to make sure that they will be followed and executed. 

In 2010 you were included in a list of UCLA Anderson's 100 Inspirational Alumni. How did it feel to know you were an inspiration and who in your life would you consider an inspiration?  

It was indeed an unexpected great honor to be included in the 100 Inspirational Alumni. Throughout my life I looked at many people, trying to take from each one of them his or her unique attributes-my father, my mother, some of myteachers, even in elementary school, some of my superior commanders and so on. When my life crossed paths with people I found myself admiring, I tried to take those "gifts" and better myself.