In advance of the Women in Defence International (WiDI) First Annual meeting at Eurosatory, MONCh (Mönch Online News Channel) conducts a series of interviews with Women in Defence. Kim Laronne, partner at Eden Communications, shares insights from "Behind the Headlines" and her experience transitioning from the military to industry.
MONCh: How does your career differ from what you thought it would be when you left university?
K. Laronne: After two years of service at the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) spokesperson unit, I decided to study psychology (B.A) and behavioural marketing (M.Sc.), as I was not sure whether I am more interested in working in marketing or in communications. Although studying and conducting my own research in these fields was fascinating, throughout all these years one of the most stable things in my life was my job as a media adviser for defence companies. Although I have also worked with other companies, the only field that kept me intrigued was the field of defence. Therefore, although what I studied at the university was different from my career today, it would not be correct to say that it surprised me or those around me.
MONCh: Has your career path surprised you and / or exceeded your expectations?
K. Laronne: Ten years ago, as a young soldier at the IDF spokesperson unit, I never imagined that one day I would own my own PR office. However, it was very clear to me that if I decided to open my own PR office, my speciality would be working with defence companies. I believe that my interests in working mainly with defence companies is derived from the fact that these companies are usually interested in the international market – and therefore the PR that they need is mainly in the international media. This is one reason for why I enjoy this job so much – I love the excitement of targeting a new country and building the list of relevant media in this area, and getting to know the local defence journalists in each area. Every exhibition and conference opens up a new world of connections and possibilities, and maintaining these connections is very satisfying. I enjoy chatting with reporters from different countries and getting to know different cultures and work habits through them. Also, from another point of view, the high-end technologies in this field are exciting and fascinating, and I am honoured to communicate those interesting solutions to the world.
MONCh: What are the challenges you face as a young woman working in the defence industry’s press relations arena?
K. Laronne: As an Israeli woman, I don't think that people feel it is weird to work with women in this arena. As in Israel all women serve in the IDF, it is not rare to find women in the defence industries. However, I do think that only a small number of women are serving in senior positions in this industry, and I believe that this should change. I know a number of highly talented women in this field that prefer to stay behind the scenes. Everyone who knows them understands that the companies they work in were not able to reach the places they did reach without them, and understands how talented and wise they are.
MONCh: Do you feel your time in the IDF prepared you for your work in the defence business arena?
K. Laronne: I served in the IDF Spokesperson unit, so not only did this service prepare me for the work in the defence arena, it also exposed me to the world of communication and PR. This was my first experience in working with the media and writing press releases, and I found myself totally intrigued by it. My job allowed me to get to know the IDF and all of the different units it is comprised of, and gave me a wide perspective on the Israeli defence arena, that I don't think I would have been able to get if I had been a regular soldier in any other unit.
MONCh: What are some of the insights or wisdom you gained in the IDF that help you in business today?
K. Laronne: During my time at the IDF Spokesperson unit, I have learnt that it is hard not to be able to communicate everything out to world. Keeping things under the radar always make them look suspicious and negative, even if they aren't negative at all. Therefore, I have learnt that my job is to try and convince those I work with to allow us to communicate all the interesting things that aren't that confidential – so that the world will be able to learn about the great things that are happening in this industry. There are so many fascinating technologies, products and solutions in this industry, and many of them are also later on expanded to other civil arenas.
MONCh: What is the best advice you can give young women seeking a career in the defence industry?
K. Laronne: I'd say: "Go for it!" I don't see this career path as different from careers in other sectors. This industry needs more women in it, as I believe that women have very good skills of multitasking and time allocation (not compared to men… Just, overall). This might seem like a masculine industry from the outside, but I believe that this work is suitable for both genders, and that this industry will benefit from having more women in senior positions.
MONCh: Thank you.
Inaugural Meeting of WiDI
IMPORTANT: With the kind patronage of COGES – organisers of Eurosatory 2018 – and the Mönch Publishing Group, Women in Defence International (WiDI) will hold its inaugural congress onWednesday, 13 June, from 14:00 to 15:00 hours during Eurosatory 2018, in the Hall 6 Conference Room 10 …graciously provided by COGES.
This meeting is the culmination of more than six-years of behind the scenes networking to bring WiDI into existence. You will be able to find out more about the organisation, its mission, goals and advantages to you and other women across the defence-industrial complex by attending this important gathering.