There are two ways to reach the top of officialdom in today's world. One is to rise through the ranks of the civil service. The other is to suceed in the private sector and be tapped to bring one's business savvy into government.
Israelis still haven't decided which model they prefer. They vacillate between criticizing officials for never having worked in business and therefore not having a business perspective, and criticizing former businessmen who come into government with vested interests.
But there is a third intermediate sort of model that's been gaining momentum in Israel: the carousel. Public servants jump ship for the private sector, only to return to the public sector.
This model has its problems, but its strengths can't be ignored.
For some officials, the public sector will always be home; they simply left for a bit to gain experience and maturity.
Many who left only to return served their companies with distinction but longed for the broad focus of serving all the people, not all the company's customers. Therefore, with the in-between model, the public service gets the best of its returning sons and daughters.
Of course, it doesn’t always work this way. Some return to the public sector with their tails between their legs after failing to make their mark in the business world. Some enter the business world, get hooked, and come back only to serve business interests.
But of all the models, the in-between one shows the most promise because of the public sector's unique inculcation of values.
The appointment of Yael Andorn as Finance Ministry director general is an example of the in-between model at its best. Andorn was considered a star at the ministry's budgets division. After leaving the treasury her star followed her into the business world as head of the Histadrut labor federation's Amitim Senior Pension Funds. While Amitim is basically a government company, it is run as a business enterprise in every way and rooted in the heart of the business sector: the capital market.
Accordingly, Andorn received many offers over the years to return to the public sector, including for top positions like director general of both the Education Ministry and Prime Minister's Office. But she refused them all – until now.
She's back at the treasury as director general under Yair Lapid, with the requisite knowledge of macroeconomics and a strong background in business. We can assume she retains the public values instilled in her from her days at the treasury. This is definitely a promising appointment.