Raz Yacobi

Raz is VP, EMEA Regional Delivery at NICE.

NICE is a billion-dollar Israeli technology business – headquartered in New York. It provides customer experience and employee engagement technology for the likes of BT, PayPal, Thomas Cook, Metro Bank and of N Brown Group (owners of JD Williams, Jacamo, Simply Be and High and Mighty), enabling them to make smarter and faster decisions based on advanced analytics of structured and unstructured data.

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

My current role is VP, EMEA Regional Delivery for NICE’s Enterprise division, which means I’m responsible for all project implementations and the overall customer experience in the EMEA region. It’s a high-pressure role, but I love it!

I started my career as an intern at Intel, and later worked as a project manager, programme manager and operations manager at a couple of organisations. I joined NICE eight years ago, and my starting role was as a project manager where I led business transformation projects within NICE. This role provided a huge amount of experience and exposure across the business and proved to be a great starting point for my career at NICE. Shortly after I relocated from Israel to London, where I’ve lived for the past six years.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I must admit I never really planned my career, which is a bit ironic as I’m a planner through and through. I’ve always been fascinated with technology and computing – I was drawn to it at school and was exposed to the subject at a fairly young age. When it came to choosing a university degree path, I initially had my heart set on computer science, but ended up going to study engineering and management. What I loved about this degree was that it wasn’t just technology and code, it was also about working with people and the overarching processes, which is one place I find passion.

Looking back at my career so far, I’ve moved through a lot of sectors, but the common thread has always been technology and it just happened naturally. Whenever I’ve had to think about a career change, I’ve focused on what I can bring to the role and the growth opportunities that were available. I’ve always chosen roles where I felt like I would have the opportunities to develop and NICE is a great example of this.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Of course I have. Everyone faces challenges in their career, but I try to look at them as growth opportunities, which is sometimes easier in hindsight. It’s all about how you deal with them and what you take away from them. For example, whenever I start in a new role it comes with a set of new challenges. Taking the time to learn and develop and grow into the role comes with a big sense of achievement. Ultimately, any new situation is an opportunity. You just have to remember to slow down, re-evaluate, understand the priorities and take things one step at a time.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Definitely reaching my current role. I was offered the job at the beginning of last year during a major transformation to our Services organisation and getting the vote of confidence to lead the team through this transition means a lot to me. I’ve got a great team and amazing people around me, which is what enabled us to complete this transition and focus on our new Services strategy.

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

It’s hard to pick just one, but the mentoring and support I’ve had from the people around me has certainly played a key role in helping me develop. I have a great network of friends, colleagues and managers, who I find inspirational, and who have been willing to offer advice whenever needed.

I’d also say the ability to apply my strengths to different roles has been a major factor. I quickly learnt that I don’t have to be smarter than my team or know everything, I just have to know how to apply my skills to the situation. This is something that has really helped me over the years.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

Mentoring is fantastic! I have been mentored and been a mentee in the past and have found it to be a great tool to build relationships and pass on advice. For example, I’ve worked with several managers and colleagues that I still call on today whenever I need another perspective, so I always try to pass on tips to friends or younger colleagues whenever I get the opportunity. Mentoring is a great tool and I would love to see more of it in any capacity. For women in particular, having role models that they can consult with and look up to is invaluable.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

That’s a big question and a big challenge! In my opinion, driving change in the gender debate starts with education – both for men and women. Equality is about everyone being aware of the issues and it’s clear that we still have a long way to go in this area. There still aren’t enough women in senior leadership roles and this won’t change unless we address the education and the recruitment process. Mentoring can also help, and companies should adopt formal mentoring programmes to help identify opportunities.

Society also plays a key role. I grew up in a very socially-equal community with the notion that I can do anything, but it isn’t the same everywhere. This is where things like internships, mentoring programmes, having a mix of men and women on industry panels and encouraging girls to study tech subjects in school can have a major impact. Things are changing but we need to keep the momentum going. The more role models and visible diversity there is across different industries, the more young girls will know that their dreams are possible.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

I’d say don’t worry what other people think about you. Just do you! Many women worry about how they are perceived by others, but it really shouldn’t matter.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

My next challenge is to continue to grow NICE services across EMEA and ensure that we provide a first-class service to our customers. I would like to see our customer greater adoptions of our Value Realisation Services, which is how our Services team can help customers maximize value from their investment with NICE. We want to help them tap into the wide range of capabilities that we offer, all while providing excellent customer service and a first-rate experience.