Always think like your customers — in order to succeed in delivering, always think as a service provider. Whether it is about the service you provide to your employees, colleagues, customers — always seek to help others succeed in their goals.
I had the pleasure to interview Michal Lewy-Harush. Michal is the CIO of Tufin and has more than 14 years of experience building and leading global technology organizations. Formerly the CIO of on-demand mobility company Gett, Lewy-Harush prides herself on an emphasis on high quality service delivery, proactivity, and customer experience to solve major business challenges through technology and innovation. Prior to Gett, Michal served as a Senior Director of Management Information Systems and Procurement at Outbrain, and prior to that, she served as IT Director at Amdocs.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Mypassion was always about the combination of learning business processes, understanding business challenges, relating to people in general and connecting everything through technology. As a CIO, I get the opportunity to connect all of these together.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
The most fascinating process that is happening these days is the evolution of the systems and IT ecosystems in order to support a fast-growing public company. The need to deliver agility and speed while managing the changes in processes and the organization to fit the new deployments is a fascinating challenge.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
It takes time for me to remember a face…so when I just started, I traveled to one of our customer’s conferences and I found myself making an intro to people I already met and talked with at the airport 😊
Lesson learned: note to self about who I meet in the first few weeks at a new company
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Tufin has the amazing combination of being the best at what they do together with insisting on corporate values such as respect and professionalism. The uniqueness of Tufin is in its special and positive DNA — very people-centric without compromising on quality.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We are now building our roadmap for 2020 while the main projects are about digitalizing the way we work and the way we communicate with our customers. I believe that every business decision should be supported by technology, and I’m looking forward to making more and more business decisions accessible for the organization.
Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Are you currently satisfied with the status quo regarding women in STEM? What specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?
I think that the status quo is changing because I see more and more women candidates for STEM positions. Having said that, I also think that it all begins in early stages where we have the ability to empower our daughters to become whatever they want and not necessarily take on the more traditional “women’s roles”. Another aspect of it is how we as women support one another and encourage one another to dare and lead.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women in STEM or Tech that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts? What would you suggest to address this?
The biggest challenges are:
The internal story — what we tell ourselves a minute before we ask for a raise, promotion or any other opportunity we would like to take on.
How society sees women in STEM while still needing (or expecting) to be the main home care function in the family. It is not the same for all societies but still we see it here and there.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a woman in STEM or Tech. Can you explain what you mean?
Myth — Women cannot succeed at STEM as they cannot invest a large number of hours because of their family commitments — NOT true…most women I know have the killer combination of executing amazingly everywhere (home and work) — at the end of the day it is all a matter of priority.
What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience as a Woman in STEM or Tech” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Modesty — always focus on doing and delivering rather than just talking. The glory will come on its own.
- Always think like your customers — in order to succeed in delivering, always think as a service provider. Whether it is about the service you provide to your employees, colleagues, customers — always seek to help others succeed in their goals.
- Be honest — honesty is one of the foundations necessary to build trust at work and in life in general.
- Think positive — what you do is just as important as how you do it. Always try to think about what you can do rather than what you cannot do.
- Be assertive but always be respectful of people.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
- Encourage your teams to take chances and learn from mistakes — don’t be afraid.
- Cherish and recognize your team’s achievements — a good word can make a huge difference.
- Implement routines that will keep your team energized — celebrate success, go out for happy hours, etc.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
- Build a strong management team
- Encourage diversity — hire people who are stronger than you in skills that you are lacking
- Be brave and don’t be afraid to take unfamiliar challenges even if you don’t have the necessary knowledge
- Know your people and meet them once in a while — even if they are not reporting to you directly
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I try to take something new from almost everyone I interact with, but the most significant people that helped me shape my career are my parents. They taught me tons about team building, decision making, emotional intelligence, being proactive and managing conflicts.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I mentor young managers as a part of a manager’s community I am involved with and I try to pass my lessons to my family and to my community
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Establish a network of mentors that can advise young women that want to make their first moves in the STEM world but are not sure they can succeed
Help young girls and women that grew up in non-supportive environments and show them that there is a world full of great opportunities for them
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Always try to understand who stands in front of you before you expect to be understood (taken from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People).
Be proactive — you don’t control the situations you get into, but you can control how you react.
When I was 18, I got into a really bad accident and it took me a year to learn how to walk again — it taught me that there is nothing I cannot overcome and that the two points above can guide me as an approach to life.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Sheryl Sandberg — she is an amazing inspiration to me, as a woman and as a business leader. I would love to hear about the tools she uses to face her day to day challenges.