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A Focus on IDE’s Leading Women – Lihy Teuerstein, Deputy CEO at IDE Assets

The 3rd interview in our International Women’s Day 2020 series is dedicated to the outstanding Lihy Teuerstein, IDE Assets' Deputy CEO and one of the smartest, most energetic and business-savvy women we know!

Tell us a little bit about your current role.

I started working for IDE 9 years ago after practicing corporate and commercial law in the private sector for a few years. My initial role was a corporate law attorney, and has evolved into establishing and managing the commercial and legal department as general counsel of the IDE group. Two years ago, an organizational restructure formed IDE Assets, dedicated to spearheading our PPP, BOT and greenfield developments activities. Gal Zohar, CEO of IDE Assets, offered me join him in building the company, an offer which I happily accepted.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

To be honest, Intl Women’s Day used to baffle me when I was younger. I was fortunate enough to come from a family where gender equality was always the norm, and even as a Law student at the Hebrew University more than 20 years ago, over 50% of my class were women, so equality always seemed to be part of my reality. I think that when you’re not faced with overt discrimination, you’re less likely to notice it when you do end up coming across it.

That being said, after landing more senior roles and finding myself in rooms where I’m the only women – whether management, client or partners meetings – I became more aware of a gender gap that needs to be addressed. Still, I never felt different from men.

How do you maintain a work-life balance?

I think there’s an unjustified gap between how men and women perceive a work-life balance, and at the end of the day this stereotype ends up hurting men more, because they’re missing out on one of the most important and meaningful experiences life has to offer. I have 5 kids, and personally, I see it as a privilege to spend as much quality time with my family as possible, never a burden. I believe that work-life balance is a matter of personal choice, not a social dictation.

Over the years, as my kids’ needs have changed and I’ve matured as a person, I’ve learned how to achieve a healthy and functional balance, but the most important factor to enable and sustain it is a supportive manager that trusts you and doesn’t fuss around hours, which I was very fortunate to have.

As most women do, oftentimes I feel like I’m not spending enough time with my kids. Recently, after meeting with the Prime Minster of Andhra Pradesh in India and showing my kids a newspaper clipping of the event, my daughter took me by surprise when she told me how proud she is of her mommy. She asked if she could take the newspaper to show her friends at school, and that was a moment of great pride for me as a mom. It struck me that despite not being physically present around the clock, I’m making an impact on how my kids perceive womanhood and how they’ll grow up to perceive themselves.

I’m learning to be at peace with the understanding that I will not be able to give 100% on all fronts. Having said that, I do my best to be fully in the moment wherever I am. The secret is knowing how to separate rare urgencies from the stuff that can wait, and that includes traveling. I’m willing to travel to the other side of the world if needed. I’ll get the job done and then travel back without delays. No sightseeing or schmoozing around. Everyone in my family already knows that mom is always home on the weekends.

How do you envision your life after IDE?

I’m very happy where I’m currently at and see myself continuing to develop my skills and expertise in more senior roles. My next dream job would be retirement, but a different kind. I see myself working in some sort of a volunteering, community-oriented environment, maybe involving kids from various backgrounds. But I’m not there yet. I still have a lot to do and learn in my current role. When I’m truly ready – I’ll make that transition.

If you could give one tip to other women looking to promote their careers – what would it be?

Believe in yourself and leave your fears behind you. Don’t waste your time apologizing, especially if you want to promote change or make demands. If you think you have a meaningful contribution to a situation – make yourself heard and don’t let disparaging remarks distract you.