…I believe it all starts with education. Encouraging more girls to pursue STEM studies and less of a gendered kids toy and activity industry, would be the first steps towards true equality. But even if you are not ‘techy’ inclined, there are many other aspects to AI you can engage with — like being able to communicate the value of what AI brings to an industry that will help it grow. I think many women that steer towards marketing and communications should consider bringing their talents to more of the techy industries that will dominate our life in the near future, like AI.
As part of my series about the women leading the Artificial Intelligence industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Galit Shiri. Galit is the director of marketing and business development at Israeli-based WSC Sports. WSC Sports uses AI to create personalized sports videos for every platform and every fan, automatically and in real-time. Galit has a passion for helping start-up companies and entrepreneurs reach the next level of success and has helped some of Israel’s most promising companies and VCs get their start.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the ‘backstory” of how you decided to pursue this career path?
Pleasure to take part! For me, it all started with the people behind the tech. I got to know Daniel and Aviv, two of WSC Sports’ founders, while working as an investment scouter for the VC firm that led WSC Sports’ Seed round of funding. What WSC was doing, and how they were doing it completely stood out in the start-up scene I was used to — being outstandingly professional while maintaining the friendly approach they’re known for.
My background was in tech and VC, and being able to work in an exciting vertical such as sports combined with the tech world, has been the icing on the cake. I’ve now been at WSC Sports for more than three years and have watched the company grow to serve 11 sports across five continents.
What lessons can others learn from your story?
Put yourself where you want to eventually be. Starting out, I did not have any kind of notion as to what career path I want to persue. The Israeli VC landscape seemed like an interesting path to explore, one in which I could learn a heck of a lot about various fields and get exposed to cutting edge technologies.
The beauty of working in a startup is that the staff usually starts off small, which means it’s an ‘all hands on deck’ mentality that gives you the opportunity to wear many hats. Having this freedom to explore many different aspects of business was an amazing “fountain of knowledge” for me and a great opportunity to gain experience.
Can you tell our readers about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
Everything about WSC Sports’ product is interesting. Even a less tech-savvy person such as I stands in awe when facing an offering which is truly “Automagical,” and I just love seeing how people react to it. At its core, our AI technology allows editors to make their own rules as to what video highlights are created based on plays, players, sound and more. By letting AI handle the time-consuming clipping and editing busywork, editors have more time to invest in valuable storytelling and creative content delivery.
Being in charge of the marketing aspect of the tech, I truly enjoy witnessing how our users respond to it. WSC Sports basically grants editors with AI-based superpowers they couldn’t imagine having otherwise. A lot of our marketing strategy is based on that — letting our clients tell the story and have the results speak for themselves. Today, some of our best success stories lie with the NBA, MLS, FIBA, Cricket Australia, US Open and many more.
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 was lucky to get to where I am today, no doubt. There were several good people along the way, in the right intersections, that identified the skills I have to lead processes, and for that I am grateful. The first was Roy Oron, who opened the first door and introduced me to this world of innovation. Roy was a partner at Plus Ventures who made that leap of faith with me and showed me the ropes (when I didn’t even know what “VC” stood for!) During my time at Plus, working closely with Roy, I learned so much about venture capital, startups, technology and business development — none of which I could’ve picked up in any other way.
And then I met Daniel Shichman and Aviv Arnon. As part of my job as a deal-flow and marketing manager at a VC, I advised a portfolio of 40 companies in their seed stage with marketing and strategy, and examined hundreds more as potential investments every year. Daniel, Aviv, Hy and Shmulik (WSC’s founders) and their work at WSC, always stood out. From the investor perspective, they were four sharp kids who somehow managed to nail the world’s biggest basketball league (NBA) as their first client. On the personal level — they were personable, ever amusing, and so engaging that you always waited to hear their stories (which were always crazy!). You could plainly see that these people had heart.
When I decided to expand the expertise I gained, WSC Sports was my first choice. Starting out in Business Operations and Development and then taking over and building the Marketing strategy, I’ve had the chance to help build out the WSC platform to new sports, regions and communities. It’s a very exciting time to be a tech company in Israel but our technology transcends borders and because of that, we are able to work with brands all over the world. It’s a truly unique position to be in and I’m really grateful and proud of what we’ve built.
What are the 5 things that most excite you about the AI industry? Why?
As an avid sci-fi and fantasy reader, who grew up reading Asimov and Clarke, I’m thrilled to see where humanity takes AI, or actually where AI takes humanity. There are so many exciting things happening in this industry right now and AI has moved from being just a buzzword to an actual application that is helping businesses improve the way they work. As I see it, AI enables people to be a more productive version of themselves, whether it be in video editing, autonomous transportation and even house work (which I hate and can’t wait for my automatic laundry/dish washing aid). With technology taking care of some of the more mundane tasks, people are becoming free to spend more of their time on the value-add aspects of their jobs that can’t be done by machines.
When things are done more quickly and efficiently, there is typically a cost savings realized. AI and automation have been found to increase cost savings for jobs that can be done faster and easier than with human interaction. There is also the potential for AI to be used for discovery of new applications based on hidden data breakthroughs. For example, AI was recently used to discover new alternatives to steel and metallic glass and has sped up the timeline for scientists for use in drug discovery and pharmaceuticals.
What are the things that concern you about the AI industry? Why?
- Job loss — without proper training and adjustments, people might find themselves out of the loop. This needs to be addressed on a high level.
- Manipulation of AI for crude profit as opposed to betterment.
- Machines becoming more intelligent than humans — sounds like sci-fi, but the possible outcomes of implementing AI without balancing measures could be severe.
As you know, there is an ongoing debate between prominent scientists, (personified as a debate between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg,) about whether advanced AI has the future potential to pose a danger to humanity. What is your position about this?
As in any other aspect of existence — everything must be taken in measure. Perhaps it’s time to come up with some kind of Asimov-esque rules for AI, or something similar to the Hippocratic Oath, just for programmers. In any case, as long as there are responsible people who take into account every (well, at least most) possible scenario depicting how AI might change humanity — we’ve got nothing to worry about. Oh, wait…
What can be done to prevent such concerns from materializing? And what can be done to assure the public that there is nothing to be concerned about?
Before we reach a stage in which machine intelligence transcends humane one, we should seriously think of and implement balancing mechanisms that will constantly monitor such developments. I mentioned some form of a Hippocratic Oath or a mechanism for checks and balances that can ensure transparency and ethical decisions are made. But I also think the public needs to be aware of the benefits and potential threats that the technology can bring. I think the public’s main concern is job loss. But to spin it in a different light, while some tasks may be outsourced to AI, new human-only jobs will be made on the programming and creative side. This is why STEM-based education needs to remain a priority starting early in school.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?
I took part as a mentor in the ‘Tech for Good’ initiative, which initially started in Israel and now has several branches worldwide. The program sets to aid Social startups, which were founded not just for the sake of financial success but for the betterment of society. It provides the entrepreneurs taking on these challenges with support and a network to help them grow and succeed.
In addition, I am lucky to be working in the world of sports, which really is a unifying and inspiring industry. No matter where you are in the world, the love of sports brings people together under a shared umbrella of passion and excitement. Sport provides opportunities to develop people-to-people connections and WSC Sports empowers sports organizations to do so on a global level, eliminating boundaries by supplying various audiences with tailor-made sports content, fit to any demand, may it be regional or any other.
As you know, there are not that many women in your industry. Can you share 3 things that you would you advise to other women in the AI space to thrive?
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s extremely hard for women in Tech to find a work-life balance and something’s always got to give. Having a strong support system at home is key, as well as understanding colleagues. At WSC, we are all parents and are flexible in trying to keep up with the juggle.
- Seek out a mentor early on. While it doesn’t need to be a woman, it is important to find a colleague that you can shadow and mirror your career on. Ask them questions about how they got to their position, what they prioritize in their career and see if it matches with your own goals and values.
- On the flip side, look for more junior women in your industry or company that you can be a mentor to. I think you’ll find that you can learn from each other based on the different levels of your careers.
Can you advise what is needed to engage more women into the AI industry?
I believe it all starts with education. Encouraging more girls to pursue STEM studies and less of a gendered kids toy and activity industry, would be the first steps towards true equality. But even if you are not ‘techy’ inclined, there are many other aspects to AI you can engage with — like being able to communicate the value of what AI brings to an industry that will help it grow. I think many women that steer towards marketing and communications should consider bringing their talents to more of the techy industries that will dominate our life in the near future, like AI.
What is your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that had relevance to your own life?
There’s only one that comes to mind when I get asked this, and it might be a bit embarrassing, because it might say quite a bit about me… “Don’t dream it — Be it” (and when thinking about it, it’s always comes with the melody…).
You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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. 🙂
It’s hard to pick just one topic to address when there is so much that can be done for the betterment of humanity. If I have to choose I‘d probably go for anything involving education. I believe that the most common system, at least in Israel (which is based on the American model) is obsolete. We have to build a system that takes into account multiple forms of intelligence as opposed to the “one size fits all” method we’re accustomed to. That requires a complete structure change, which I’m not sure most governments have the willingness to implement, and in a global environment such as ours going regional might not be the correct way to operate. So, thinking really big, I would start with a Global Education Committee, bringing together social scientists, neuroscientists, and education specialists from all around the world.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Twitter — @GalitShiri
Linkedin — Galit Shiri
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!