Roland Kluger, a prominent figure in European media and a passionate supporter of the Hebrew University, has one piece of advice for its 22,000-plus students, regardless of their field of study: “Think like an entrepreneur. Be proactive, be creative. Don’t be afraid to launch your own ideas.”
Kluger has clearly heeded his own advice. An entrepreneur with 40 years’ experience in the world of entertainment and e-commerce, his professional expertise is in music publishing and in television- and internet-mediated commerce. He began his career in Belgium as a music publisher and producer and, in the late 1980s, in partnership with French novelist and media personality Pierre Bellemare, he introduced “teleshopping” to European television. Since then, he has diversified into radio and television production and also established a start-up incubator.
Fascinated by the digital revolution and its impact, Kluger speedily incorporated its components into his business Kluger Partners, where he seeks to identify “out-of-the-box” opportunities. “I facilitate business development in the media sector by leveraging the digital revolution,” he says. Indeed, this is his advice and his example for today’s young students — “to take the entrepreneurial approach and launch something new, making use of the new tools at your disposal.
“Of course, it’s fine to make money in the process,” he says. “And if you do, then you are also most likely creating jobs for others. What you do is less important than doing it,” he maintains, urging students “to try to carry the ball forward, get things in motion.”
Kluger was conferred an honorary fellow of the Hebrew University in 2007 and is an active member of its Board of Governors who sits on its executive and its budget and finance committees. He played an instrumental role in rejuvenating the French Friends several years ago, and was its executive president. He continues his involvement with the Friends through serving as an executive member of the University’s French Friends association and of the European Friends’ executive committee.
From his position at the cutting-edge of new media, Kluger brims over with ideas on how to apply social media to the University’s outreach and fundraising efforts, suggesting that a two-pronged approach of top-down and bottom-up can fuel fundraising. While he firmly believes in continuing with traditional strategies, he is not surprisingly a champion of social media, in particular Facebook and Twitter.
Kluger is an active “tweeter” and says that when he reads something that excites him — such as a recent research breakthrough by the Hebrew University’s Prof. Yosef Gruenbaum, whose work he supports, in elucidating the role of genetic mutations in nuclear lamins in triggering 14 different human diseases — he is sure to share it with others. “Research from the Hebrew University is making a real difference in the lives of real people and the world needs to hear about it,” he stresses.
Born in France, Kruger grew up in Belgium and later returned to France where he has lived for more than two decades. In 2000, when he and his wife Rolande — the two share not only a last name but the same first name as well — sought to memorialize their fathers, they asked their son and daughter for ideas. It was their son who suggested supporting the Hebrew University. Impressed with his choice, the couple — along with both widows, Andela Kluger and Ida Rozenbaum, sister Lucy Rozenbaum and brothers Jean and Ludo Kluger — agreed. They set up two biomedical research funds. One supports cancer research in memory of Rolande’s father, Mordko Rozenbaum. The other supports research into ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) which was the cause of death of Roland’s father Jacques Kluger at age 51 in 1963.
Roland and Rolande Kluger describe themselves as “philosophically, deeply convinced that through education we can perhaps solve certain problems in the world, including the conflict in the Middle East.” While acknowledging that “it sounds like a fairytale, it’s still nice to believe that if you educate people on both sides, it can make a difference,” they say.
From the moment that the decision to support Hebrew University was made in Brussels “in the presence of the two grandmothers, the two widows, I felt that I wanted to follow up, to be in touch, so I contacted Yoram Cohen, who heads the University’s European Friends. He brought us for a visit, we attended a Board of Governors meeting and one thing led to another.”
His work with the Hebrew University is enriching, says Roland Kluger. “It is a different way of being active and giving back some of what you’ve learned during the course of a busy life. I love the people I have met through the Friends’ associations. I now have friends all over the world. We meet at the Board of Governors — we are like a family.”
By Gilah Kahn-Hoffman, December 2011