Raz Yacobi featured

Inspirational Woman: Raz Yacobi | VP, EMEA Regional Delivery, NICE

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.


Sharon Einstein featured

Inspirational Woman: Sharon Einstein | VP (EMEA) Robotic Automation & AI, NICE

 

Sharon EinsteinSharon Einstein is VP (EMEA) Robotic Automation and AI at NICE.

NICE is a billion-dollar technology company – headquartered in New York (office in Israel and London (Blackfriars)) that provides customer experience and employee engagement technology for the likes of BT, PayPal, Thomas Cook and Metro Bank.

Sharon joined NICE in 1997 as a system analyst and during her time at NICE has been on both sides of the fence: CIO – deciding on the technologies to grow and transform the business, and now VP EMEA Robotic Automation and AI – selling and implementing automation solutions to customers embarking on their digital transformation journeys.

Tell us about yourself, your background, your current role

I’m Sharon Einstein, VP EMEA Robotic Automation & AI at NICE. NICE provides customer experience and employee engagement technology for over 25,000 organisations in more than 150 countries, including over 85 of the Fortune 100 companies.

I joined NICE in 1997 in a temporary role as part of the MIS and IT team (Management Information System and Information Technology) and since then have worked in multiple roles. First, as a CIO, deciding on the technologies to grow and transform the business, and now leading our Robotic Automation and AI efforts in EMEA – selling and implementing automation solutions to customers embarking on their digital transformation journeys.

I’m from Israel, married and have two beautiful children – boy (9) and girl (7).

Do you ever sit down and plan your career?

When I was at university, I wanted to be a developer and planned a career in a R&D (research and development) industry. But just before I graduated, I got a temporary position at NICE in MIS & IT and haven’t looked back since.

When I started my career I set myself a clear goal – to become CIO – knowing the impact technology has in business. The path to getting to this point wasn’t mapped out for me – but I knew where I wanted to end up. It helped stoke the fire and drove me to be at the front end of technology development and implementation.

In came NICE. As a company known for its innovation, it led me to the role I have now. This leads me to my first bit of advice - to have a sense of where you want to go but to be flexible with your plans. A calculated risk and a willingness to seize a good opportunity, even if it’s unexpected, can pay large dividends.

Have you faced any challenges along the way, and if so have how you dealt with them?

Challenges make us all stronger. I know they certainly have for me. For me there are two buckets I place those challenges into. One is very much aligned with the business. The other is how I manage out-of-work hours. Fortunately, I have benefited from a strong support system in both of those areas. I have learned that risk is inherent in the DNA of an innovative organisation and to not take risks will inevitably lead to failure. It is also how I approach my personal life. You must be open to where the road leads and sometimes be willing get your hands dirty and chart your own path. My second bit of advice: be daring.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace what would it be?

Women should be able to be their natural selves without apology. We all should be our authentic selves in the workplace and be ok with that.  This goes for men and woman. If you are aggressive by nature, so be it. If you are sensitive and emotional, so be it. We should be able to express ourselves just as we are, instead of being concerned that we’ll validate a stereotype.

I have seen it time and time again – women try to be less ‘emotional’ and more aggressive because that’s what we perceive others expect of us. Early in my career, I found myself questioning how emotion impacted my brand. I thought somehow, if I showed my feelings, I would be seen as weak by other colleagues. But in my opinion, showing a bit of emotion in the workplace is not a bad thing at all. It makes you more human and relatable. And my goal is to create an environment for my team where everyone can be their authentic self - regardless of gender.

How would you encourage more young women and girls into a career in STEM?

First off, I will say loudly that a career in STEM is very rewarding. The fact that you’re a woman shouldn’t hold you back. If you like technology, mathematics and science, then I’d highly recommend a career in STEM. Some might see a glass ceiling but from my perspective I see a lab floor.

I was exposed to IT from a very young age and was able to spend time with many intelligent people who taught me how their systems worked and encouraged me to innovate. I went on to study computer science and then I got the temporary job at NICE that got me started on this journey. It’s been a great career for me and I’d love to see more women in the industry.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I find technology an inspiration. Being a change agent for our MIS and IT teams,  transforming them from back-office/cost-centre functions where their real value recognition fell short, to strong business enablers is one of those moments.

A second achievement is the transformation of our EMEA Services division. As VP of Services and leader of an amazingly talented team of innovators, we delivered a three-year profitable customer loyalty programme. This effort was driven through a shared objective to deploy value at every customer interaction. We exceeded profitability and customer satisfaction targets, resulting in significant impacts to the overall business results in EMEA.

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

The question I always find myself asking is what’s next. It’s important to always be future thinking. I expect my team to constantly uncover opportunities to influence how technology impacts the way we live and work. I have an expectation that we are each there for each other. I could not be prouder of our team. It is equally important that we constantly seek new talent to disrupt our norms. In that is the next big idea.

As a female and as an executive in an organisation like NICE, I feel a sense of responsibility to find ways to give back. We must spend time in our community, support causes we believe in and pave the way for the next generation. For me, personally, I look forward to what’s next and to mentoring the next woman or man who can step into my shoes.