Hadar Telem

Hadar Telem, Director of Business Product Operations at INCRMNTAL, is an analytics professional specialising in marketing measurement.

Hadar has over 10 years industry experience, as well as an academic background, including a thesis on the topic of Consumer Behaviour. In her current role, she is leading process enhancements for post-sales operations, business-product alignment and analytics automation, as well as managing customer success and analytics teams. Hadar’s previous role was Director of Marketing Analytics at Huuuge Games, and she has also worked in analytics for Playtika, Aditor and Varonis.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role.

I’m an analytics professional, specialising in marketing measurement. Currently I’m Director of Business Operations at INCRMNTAL, a marketing measurement platform that measures the true value of marketing spend, without relying on any user-level data. In my role, I manage business analytics, customer success teams and everything operations.

I am experienced in leading marketing analytics departments and strategy, and previously held the position of Director of Marketing Analytics at Huuuge Games, followed by a decade in analytical roles in places such Playtika and Varonis. I also hold an MBA with a specialty in marketing and information systems. I was always deeply curious about the intersection between human behaviour and the way it is being presented in data – where and when can we really understand something about a group of people by analysing their behaviour and the stories that data can tell, when interpreted correctly. In my career, I have focused specifically on interpreting human behaviour in the field of mobile marketing. It’s a uniquely interesting world of understanding where groups of users came from, how we predict them to progress, and whether or not a company should be investing in certain marketing activities.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Initially no, back when I was still at school I thought I wanted to go into a career in either music or psychology, but during my first year at uni I got to know the world of information systems and data, and I also worked as an analyst while studying, which was when I realised how valuable data analysis can be. In one of the interviews after I graduated with my BA, the interviewer asked me, where do you see yourself in 5 years? Instinctively I said I see myself managing a department of analysts. I didn’t plan to say it, nor did I build a 5 year plan for myself, but somehow, with hard work and dedication, I managed to achieve this “prophecy” in about 4 years.

It was clear to me during my BA and masters degrees that I wanted to work within the field of marketing. In both I studied units around marketing, and wrote a thesis on the psychology of decision making from a marketing perspective. Consumer behaviour has always fascinated me, which is why I was so interested in psychology as a student, and I feel grateful to have a career that combines both of my interests.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

The biggest professional challenge I’ve ever faced was in a previous role, where I realised that in order to measure the marketing activity effectively and fairly, there had to be a change in the infrastructure, KPIs and goals for the entire department, which required a cross-organisational change and effort. In order to make this happen, I needed to lobby the c-suite and different departments within the business. I was a non-manager analyst at the time, and fairly new to the company, so it was a challenge to speak up and convey a message to people in much higher positions.

I received a lot of pushback and objections at first, but I was able to overcome this by understanding who are the personas in front of me and what do they expect to see. They wanted the bigger picture and how it affects the entire company. They didn’t have time to go through my entire analysis, so I adapted it to show concise results and next steps, and provided informative and actionable insights driven by thorough analyses. I was able to show how the change would accurately help the organisation in having a better understanding and projection to the marketing activity. Eventually, I was granted the resources and green light to go forward with it.

Implementing this change and executing it took time and effort, but it was a change for the better, and has improved the collaboration the marketing department had with other parts of the organisation. Additionally, I was recognized for leading this change, which  resulted in a promotion. It proved to me that I should always argue the case for what I feel is right for any company I’m working for.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

For me, it’s seeing the success of the people I manage and how they’ve grown and developed in their careers. Several of those have made their first steps as analysts in the mobile industry under my supervision, and are now acting as senior analysts and team managers, and I expect them to keep growing in their careers.

It is really important for me to understand where individuals on my team want to go professionally, and help them achieve that. As an example, one of my former team members started as a senior analyst. He is genuinely one of the smartest people I’ve met, and when he was moved from a different team to mine, I asked him what interests him the most. He aspired to be a data scientist, and had many of the qualifications required for this role, such as statistical knowledge and expertise, but he was lacking the technical skills (python, R) to make this transition. I saw how much potential he has and how much the company can benefit by making this transition for him. I was able to get the appropriate resources for him to learn on his own, and he has done the heavy lifting of learning and practising and gaining the skills by himself. I then connected him to the company’s AI team to work, learn and get recognized by additional internal experts in the field, and after demonstrating his abilities and the potential gain for the department, he was given the title of a data scientist. This was his own achievement, but I am happy I was in a position to enable this move for him.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

As an analyst I guess it goes without saying that I’m analytically minded, but I am a quite strong strategic thinker. I’m able to understand what the implications and effects of workplace decisions will be before I make them, which is a huge advantage when it comes to implementing important changes for a business.

But I think what has helped me excel the most is being empathetic and having emotional intelligence. I care about my team and the people I work with, I truly want them to succeed. I think it’s so important for people in senior positions to possess empathy, yet it’s a characteristic that is too often overlooked when it comes to good leadership skills.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

My leading piece of advice would be to try and see the bigger picture. Look beyond your immediate role to what the mission of the company is. Connecting to the wider context can help individuals see the purpose and importance of their role and really drive forward work that is aligned with the company’s overall success.

It’s also so important to feel passionate about what you do and ensure your job fosters a sense of pride and satisfaction within you. Of course, almost any job is going to be tough or stressful at times but if it gives you an underlying sense of purpose and contentment, then it’s far easier to get through the tougher days.

I would also say optimism is a key characteristic for success in any role. Optimism is infectious and helps build up the team around you.

What barriers for women working in tech are still to be overcome?

I’ve never experienced barriers to getting or being promoted in tech roles because of my gender, which is a positive thing. But at a senior management level, I have found there to be somewhat of a ‘boys club’ within the industry. At events there are often clubs, parties and spaces where women are not actively included and getting a seat as a woman is not always optional.

Fortunately, in my current role at INCRMNTAL, it’s a very diverse and progressive environment and I don’t feel my gender is ever called into question. But for the industry more widely, I believe more needs to be done to promote greater equality at the top level.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

As per the previous answer, I think more needs to be done to progress women to senior and c-suite roles. Tech firms have a major responsibility here but it’s not always the case that it’s the organisations that are bypassing women. Sometimes the lack of senior women in tech roles comes down to women doubting their expertise and capabilities, and therefore not putting themselves forward for roles.

While I am certain that more women should be considered for C-suite and upper management roles, I also believe there needs to be a mindset shift among women in tech. We don’t promote ourselves up enough.

Personally, when I was a younger woman starting out in my career, I didn’t have much confidence or feel I had anything particularly unique to say. Even really meaningful achievements, such as impactful analyses I have made, were not communicated or pushed by me to any relevant people. This definitely hurt me in getting recognized, and blocked me from progressing at certain roles. It was with the help of good managers (both female and male) along the way that I learned the lesson, and that I do have a voice that matters.

I now try to pass forward the realisation that everyone has their unique voice that should be spoken and heard. Specifically, my advice for women in the tech industry is to raise their voices, stand up for what they believe, understand that they can make a lot of impact, and provide value for their workspace by getting their insights and opinions heard, as long as these are backed by data and facts.

In an ideal world, how would you improve gender diversity in tech?

It has to start with education. Women must be encouraged at school age to learn and study more technical subjects. I think a bias still exists where boys at school are pushed towards more mathematical, scientific and IT subjects, whereas girls are driven more to humanities and creative subjects, and this needs to change.

I would also recommend applying to positions even if you’re not 100% checking all boxes. I personally got myself into a “technical” role without a technical degree (business administration). I applied to my first analyst position as a first-year, first-semester student (where the position aimed for a second year student), I wrote a cover letter saying why I should fit in although I don’t have all prerequisites, as I believed I could gain the skills with the right attitude and hard work.

As a manager who screens a lot of CVs for analytical roles, men tend to submit themselves more than women when they don’t match all qualifications, especially for more senior roles.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, e.g. podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

Within the tech industry, I really enjoy social network groups of Women in Tech – I believe there is a local one in almost every country. In the mobile industry, there is the Mobile Dev Memo blog and podcast and I also recommend the INCRMNTAL podcast – and I’m unbiased, I liked it from before I joined the company. For analytics groups I enjoy the Israeli community of Data Queens, as well as general LinkedIn communities such as Big Data and Analytics, Business Intelligence, Analytics & Data Visualization and Advanced Analytics and Data Science.

Read more from our inspirational women here.