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Socialbakers CEO Yuval Ben-Itzhak: “Bottom line, people are the most valuable asset of any business; Investing in them and creating opportunities for them needs to be priority #1”.

We need to improve work-life balance. It does not need to compromise productivity, but it does increase well-being. Creating an employee-first culture in the workplace is also very important. Employees are the most valuable asset of any business. Investing in them and creating opportunities for them needs be priority #1 for every business owner. As a […]


We need to improve work-life balance. It does not need to compromise productivity, but it does increase well-being. Creating an employee-first culture in the workplace is also very important. Employees are the most valuable asset of any business. Investing in them and creating opportunities for them needs be priority #1 for every business owner.


As a part of my series about how leaders can create a “fantastic work culture,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CEO of Socialbakers. Yuval brings over 20 years of business and technology experience to Socialbakers, a leading AI-powered social media marketing platform. He is a frequent commentator in the media, speaking on topics such as the future of AdTech, social, mobile, security, privacy, consumer dynamics, and disruptive innovation. Prior to joining Socialbakers in 2017, he served as CTO at Outbrain. Before Outbrain he was CTO at AVG Technologies for five years where he was instrumental in taking the company public in 2012. Prior to AVG, he was the CTO of Finjan, and in 2000 founded the web application security pioneer, Kavado. Yuval is a graduate of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and a holder of 20 U.S. patents.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve always been passionate about innovation, in building large operational business ‘machines’, and in leading people for success. Throughout my 25+ years in the business world, I acquired the education and experience that helped me shape my career path around my passions. I had many options to choose from throughout the years, but I always chose the ones that helped me to follow my passions.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

At my current role, as the CEO of Socialbakers, I have made many decisions in order to build the business into the success it has today. The decisions that I’m most proud of are always around promotions of people into senior roles where I’ve guided them and can later see their success and their impact shine across our organization. As a great believer in people and their potential to succeed, I’m always on the lookout for the next leader to join the team. I have had the honor of seeing that happen more than once during my time at Socialbakers as well as in my previous leadership roles over the years. I’m very proud of the team I have as well as their potential. I recall a particular case where I identified a new potential leader, and before promoting that person I challenged my other leadership team for their opinion. Receiving little excitement about the individual, I had a challenging decision to make, but my belief was that individual had great potential. Six months later, with close mentoring and support, that individual became a highly appreciated leader at the company. This case is a great example for other leaders to keep pushing forward with their beliefs and decisions even if, initially, support is not 100% .

Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

As a CEO of a growing business, I’m always busy with multiple projects simultaneously. This is what I like to do — and it makes me happy in what I do. The work we do at Socialbakers helps digital marketers to better understand their brand audience, across many digital channels, and to create engaging and exciting content for users. People like content and engage with it, and helping marketers create relevant content and measuring its performance is where our business can help people. The work pays off when we see the success of our customers. A recent example is our customer La Redoute in France, which managed to increase their audience’s purchase intent by 40% and reduce their advertisement cost by 74% by using our product.

Ok, lets jump to the main part of our interview. According to this study cited in Forbes, more than half of the U.S. workforce is unhappy. Why do you think that number is so high?

This is a sad statistic. Employees don’t deserve to be unhappy at work, where they spend half of their waking time. There are many reasons why people are unhappy at work, however it is the responsibility of the manager to identify the reasons and search for solutions. On the positive side, this statistic could indicate the growth potential of the economy once this issue is identified and addressed at scale.

Based on your experience or research, how do you think an unhappy workforce will impact a) company productivity b) company profitability c) and employee health and wellbeing?

Happiness at work greatly contributes to productivity, retention, growth and overall business success. Businesses that do not value and invest in the happiness of their employees are the ones that struggle and eventually break. As people are the most valuable asset of modern businesses, business owners should look at the employees’ happiness as a leading indicator for the business’ success over time.

Can you share 5 things that managers and executives should be doing to improve their company work culture? Can you give a personal story or example for each?

I truly believe in the following five items and implemented them in my workenvironment

1. Create an employee-first culture: Bottom line, people are the most valuable asset of any business. Investing in them and creating opportunities for them needs to be priority #1.

2. Build an execution excellence culture: At Socialbakers, we constantly measure quality, velocity and results across everything we do so that we can remove barriers and ensure top performance.

3. Develop a learning & inspiration culture: At Socialbakers we work to inspire people across the company by making sure we communicate on WHY we do what we do and where we want to go. We also work to provide free education and support for employees who need to up-skill themselves to better carry out their role.

4. Have a true “Glass door” & direct communication culture: We literally use glass doors in our office, and reserve weekly calendar time for employees to have direct dialogue with top management. Everyone is on messaging applications within the company and can be reached quickly and without formality, including the CEO and his leadership team.

5. Equal opportunity culture: It’s imperative that all opportunities are open to all people based on their qualifications and experience. At Socialbakers no other factors affect the selection process.

It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but it seems like we have to “change the culture regarding work culture”. What can we do as a society to make a broader change in the US workforce’s work culture?

We need to improve work-life balance. It does not need to compromise productivity, but it does increase well-being. Creating an employee-first culture in the workplace is also very important. Employees are the most valuable asset of any business. Investing in them and creating opportunities for them needs be priority #1 for every business owner.

How would you describe your leadership or management style? Can you give us a few examples?

I truly like working with people from multiple cultures and disciplines. I like to hire smart people and give them the resources and opportunities to do great things for our business. I’m a great fan of open conversations and sharing, as I believe this is how big things can be created and success can be achieved. Constant learning is the power behind our success. Providing free professional education to all our employees is my top priority as our world is moving fast and we need to constantly learn and be inspired by new things around us.

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?

There are points in life where you need someone to guide you on the route you need to reach your potential. I had two people in my career that helped me with a critical career decision. As part of a large family of electrical engineers, doctors and lawyers, I had to choose what subject to study. I was honored to have people around me that guided me on how to make such an important decision for my professional life. Unlike most of my family, I have chosen a career path that better fits my passion and inspiration in life. It would not have happened without two individuals — my officer during my army service and my math teacher in high school who I keep in contact with even today. The decision that I made back in the early 90s is the one contributing the most to my professional success and happiness in what I do today.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Sharing my learnings and success with others, on a voluntary basis, is how I believe I can contribute to the world. This includes inspiring young girls to program on computers as I do at my kids’ school, sponsoring robotics research labs for young kids, donating entertaining and educational books to young kids who cannot afford them or are undergoing medical procedures and missing the happiness every kid should have. I also mentor young entrepreneurs to achieve their dreams.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My life lesson quote is that “we are limited just by our imagination”. Never take the impossible for granted because creativity and innovation can turn the impossible into the possible. I was inspired by this quote during my career both in the army service and business. As the inventor of over 20 granted U.S. patents, I’m well aware of the power of innovation to make things possible and break down barriers.

You are a person of great 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. 🙂

Provide free education on any topic to anyone regardless of who they are. Anyone should have the right to learn and be educated without discrimination; this is what I believe would be best for humanity

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you continued success!

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