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The MSD Coffee Klatch.  This is the first weekly installment of a series of quick chats planned with various industry insiders who are uniquely-qualified to provide insight on specific subjects.
In this format, Maritime Security & Defence (MSD) magazine conducts a short interview – taking as much time to read as it would to visit with a colleague over a cup of coffee, sharing knowledge and insights; hence, a “coffee klatch” of a virtual nature.
This week, MSD shares a cup of coffee with  Mr Dror Shrem, VP of Sales at Avnon Academy Group, part of the Avnon Group. He has several years in developing education and training programmes worldwide – and it appears as though defence and HLS is just the start.

by Stephen Elliott, Publisher

Maritime Security & Defence (MSD): When did Avnon Group decide it wanted to include the Academy, and when was it launched? (Also, what was involved in organising it?)

Dror Shrem (DS): Since its establishment in 1990,  the Avnon HLS Group has been client-oriented. We devote our resources to meeting the dynamic demands that arise from the field, delivering advanced bespoke concepts, technologies and solutions for Governments, HLS agencies, Law Enforcement and Special Units to enhance safety and help create a secure future.

Dror Shrem, VP Sales, Avnon Academy. Photo: Avnon Group

One of our most valuable insights working in a diverse range of business environments is the immense importance of knowledge transfer and training that serves our organisational vision to create, shape, lead and support global security, stability, sustainability and economic ecosystems.

Leveraging the HLS group’ expertise, our journey to expand our customer offering to additional, more comprehensive scale solutions, services and technologies, led to the establishment of The Avnon Holdings.

Avnon Holdings brings together all the HLS group companies, together with the dedicated Academy sector, and other companies operating in related areas of activity intertwined and derived from each other.

The Avnon Academy Group is built upon years of accumulated knowledge gained over decades of operating in the international cyber, defence and HLS arenas.

Our mission is to create an innovative, hybrid educational platform, combining field-proven expertise with advanced teaching and research methods, creating relevant, up-to-date courses. The Avnon Academy Group utilises the world-renowned Israeli know-how to offer professional academic qualification and research in HLS, Cyber-security, National Security, Fin-Tech, Sustainability, Agri-Tech, Environment & Global Warming, and Leadership & Capacity Building.

Avnon Academy Group – Layout
Image: Avnon Group

The academy platform has been under development for the past two years, from the initial customer request and feasibility examination to resource allocation and proof of concept.

The registration for the first two formal courses officially opened in March 2021, and the first program is scheduled for September 2021.

MSD: The Avnon Group’s various enterprises consistently include training for the products and systems they provide customers. Why set up the Avnon Academy as an extension of this experience?

DS: There is more than one answer; the main reason – expertise.  Ensuring a high level of proficient, up-to-date, accurate content requires a dedicated, comprehensive and professional knowledge centre, one that makes it its mission to stay up to date and constantly verify the applicability of vocational curricula to ensure compliance with international, professional standards.

We aim to create a holistic learning experience, offering an accurate and precise solution while modular and customised.

Avnon Academy Group’s Size and amout of resources dedicated to the Academy. Image: Avnon Group

This operation requires a dedicated, unified chain of logistics to maintain its many components – from content production and online learning platform and data centres to physical study complexes, accommodations, maintenance of demo environments for practice and more.

MSD: Who will be the “users” of the Academy in these first two or three years as the offering grows?

DS: Our modular, comprehensive courses bring together professionals and senior executives, C- level managers, and government & military officials from all over the world.

The Avnon Academy offers them the tools to enhance and empower their capabilities and strategic skills in their respective relevant industries, encompassing all related domains and their dynamic interplay of strengths and weaknesses.

MSD: How does the Avnon Academy fit into the Group’s mission of Keeping People Safe?

DS: In our eyes, “knowledge is power” is not just a slogan; it is a call to action.

First and foremost, one of the Avnon Academy’ agendas is creating a high standard of global perceptual unity and uniformity regarding the importance of keeping pace with the constant dynamic changes in the global security, defence, sustainability and capacity arenas.

As a derivative of our vast experience in multiple business sectors throughout the years, we at the Avnon academy understand the significance of adopting new technologies and methodologies to stay ahead of the game.  Today the world faces multi-faceted threats, whether terror attacks or cyber threats, defective infrastructures, or poor resource management impacting all aspects of life, individual and public- from national capacity to local economy and GNP.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is an unfortunate but excellent example of all the above. Just imagine how many people could have been spared and the financial loss that could have been avoided if we had a global, practical standard for health crisis management with all that it entails.

Avnon Academy – Study sectors related to defence and HLS. Image: Avnon Group

MSD: Where has the Avnon Group been successful in education and training programmes?

DS: The Avnon Group has extensive experience training special units and governmental agencies worldwide in their respective fields of activity. From extensive professional forensics courses and force management training in multiple countries to CBRN and EOD specialisation and Professional multi-vertical disaster management training for senior executives and government officials.

MSD: The Avnon Group does not usually publicise its extensive charitable works; however, it is active in development, education and training in Africa – what does this experience bring to the Avnon Academy offering?

DS: Today, African countries are starting to recognise the importance of affordable, high-quality higher education. However, a backlog of reforms has accumulated over the last decades resulting in a lack of resources to improve the country’s education system drastically.

Our vision is to change the face of higher education in Africa, giving people the chance to create career opportunities and a brighter future. Two essential factors in creating a stable and economically flourishing country are security and education. Education creates knowledge used to develop new technologies, agriculture, and, more importantly, keeping Africa’s future talent at home to strengthen the workforce and build stronger industries powered by educated communities. As a result, the economy flourishes, jobs are created and filled, citizens are more content, leading to less civil unrest and guaranteeing the stability and continuity of the government.

MSD: What is the next step for the Avnon Academy?

DS: Everything is possible… As we grow, in addition to worldwide training, our vision includes the establishment of a comprehensive academic complex in northern Israel combined with a dedicated training centre for national security studies for students from across the globe. In the long run, we plan to expand globally with local branches in strategic locations where our presence will hopefully contribute to local development and sustainability.