Ofra Struass ranked at number 16 in The Financial Times’ Women at the top list
What started as a smallholding with just two cows, in a quiet corner of Israel, is now a global enterprise, with operations in 20 countries and 20,000 staff.
Ofra Strauss’s grandparents were German-Jewish émigrés, fleeing Germany in the mid-1930s. Excess milk from those two cows was made into cheese bearing an ostrich on its packaging (“Strauss” means “ostrich” in German).
Ofra, the third generation to run the family business, witnessed the growth of this small dairy operation into a global brand as her father developed the business. Now it has interests in dairy, pre-packed salads, convenience foods and snacks, coffee and water.
Ofra studied law at Tel Aviv university before going to New York to work as a marketing manager for Estée Lauder. She joined the family business in 1990, and held various management roles before becoming chairwoman in 2001. She has sealed partnerships with Danone and PepsiCo, and in 2008 sold 25 per cent of Strauss’s coffee business to TPG, the private equity group.
Strauss is Israel’s second-largest food and beverage company, with sales of $1.62bn in the 2009 fiscal year, 47 per cent derived from international activities.