Some 30,000 Palestinian applicants want a job at PalTel, a company that employs just 3,000, and it’s easy to see why.
On a ridge overlooking Ramallah, with its haphazard traffic, salesmen weaving through cars hawking their wares, jumbled power lines, and potholed roads, PalTel’s soaring headquarters is a microcosm of modern professionalism.
So despite the fact that CEO Ammar Aker has long had to take a Twister-like approach to his job, coming up with innovative workarounds to various Israeli restrictions on the Palestinian telecommunications sector, he finds deep satisfaction in working here.
“What keeps me going is to see those young men and women in my company who are building a future,” he says. “Regardless of all these obstacles, we have managed to build an institution, a corporate environment, where everybody in the country looks up to.”
As an international businessman with a Canadian passport, he’s no stranger to such professional environments. In the West Bank, however, business is not just business; it is also an avenue for grooming a young generation that many hope will fulfill their parents’ and grandparents’ yearning for a state of their own.
“We always try to build a model institution for the Palestinians that we are hoping to make this institution a cornerstone in building a modern Palestinian state,” says Mr. Aker, who also hopes to expand into an international company one day. “What keeps me going is when I walk in every day and see people smiling and saying good morning and they dress nice, they look nice, they serve customers in a professional way and I just say, you know what, we made it but we still have to do more.”