All my life colleagues felt comfortable telling me the little things, especially related to their feelings towards their job and company. Once I was named CEO, it took some time to notice, but people stopped telling me small things. I don’t feel I changed when my title changed but people did change the way they approached me due to my role.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Yaron Silberman.
Yaron serves as CEO of ScoutCam and has over 20 years of experience in the international high-tech medical device industry, with expertise in marketing, sales, business development, and product management. Additionally, Yaron managed an independent Business Unit, took an active role in several fundraising and due diligence and has over 5 years of experience in China, including product registration, fundraising, and distribution. Prior to ScoutCam, Yaron held positions with Siemens, Given Imaging, Medigus, MedSim, and NiTi Surgical Solutions.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I served in the Israeli Air-Force as a software engineer in an F-16 flight simulator. Once discharged, I heard of a start-up company founded by a former Air-Force pilot who became a Professor for Obstetrics and Gynecology and an expert in Ob-gyn ultrasound. His vision was to develop full-scale simulators for advanced medical procedures, just like the ones used to train pilots. I joined the company as a Project Manager and later became a Product Manager, where helped develop the first full-scale ultrasound simulator. I stayed with the company for 7 years and worked with medical doctors, which exposed me to innovative medical technologies, which then led me to a career in medical devices.
Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?
There is a fine balance between being hands-on in helping others out versus doing their work almost entirely, and it was a challenge for me to differentiate the two. Now I’ve learned to re-evaluate my level of involvement in different types of activities. In order to do this, I often ask myself if I my assistance will add value to a task or if I should leave it to the person managing it. This helps us guarantee our time is managed efficiently so we can maximize our resources and talent.
What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?
I’m a people person. I strongly encourage my employees to believe in the purpose of what their doing, this way nobody feels commanded to complete tasks. It is important to be a good leader, and it is often more energy consuming to be patient, but I am confident that in the long run, it yields better business results. Additionally, it is critical to focus your attention on the company’s goals and avoid the numerous distractions that tend to arise. I apologize if the latter statement sounds trivial, but tend to remind it to myself several times a day.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.
In no specific order:
- That people may attribute great importance to minor things — Once, after a small company event during a workday (which obviously left the rest of the day overloaded and stressed), I was asked by one of my colleagues to have “an urgent personal meeting,” only to find out that he wanted to recommend different refreshments for the next event.
- That you will not know the “little things” and many people will stop sharing their thoughts and feelings with you — All my life colleagues felt comfortable telling me the little things, especially related to their feelings towards their job and company. Once I was named CEO, it took some time to notice, but people stopped telling me small things. I don’t feel I changed when my title changed but people did change the way they approached me due to my role.
- That you will never have time to do everything optimally and you will need to learn to devote the right level of attention to every task and subject — There is one great term that I learned from our new Chairman that helps me a lot in not overdoing and not underdoing tasks. The term is “very good enough”. In most cases in the business world, you need things to be “very good enough” as opposed to perfect.
- Colleagues will often know less than you think and it’s critical to keep everyone updated proactively and frequently — When the flow of information is so quick and new developments are happening rapidly, I sometimes forget that not everyone is as updated on what is going on as a CEO. As an open person, I am sometimes under the illusion that everyone knows everything, but this is not the case, and you need to keep in mind that everyone, including the people that tend to ask fewer questions, must be updated in order to feel motivated and involved — There were many awkward occasions in which I tried to discuss recent news with someone only to find out that they were not even aware of this situation.
- It takes longer for people to notice change — Significant and profound changes take time. When I used to start a process, I was confident that everyone recognized its effect, although it was not completed. It came as a surprise when I found out that others were not even aware that change was happening. — For example, one of the goals I set for myself as CEO of ScoutCam was to improve daily life at the office and make it a much more comfortable place to work at. Although I was very pleased with the progress, it was done over a long period of time and people did not feel the gradual improvement. Therefore employees were not encouraged by change for quite some time.
What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
There is a famous skit in Israel about a (not-so-smart) father who is trying to explain to his genius son that he will be richer by becoming a basketball player rather than a scientist. The father then lectures the son needing to practice 25 hours a day to succeed. When the son accounts that there are only 24 hours a day, the father simply says he’ll have to wake up an hour earlier. This couldn’t be truer, ScoutCam’s success comes down to a lot of hard work and being prepared to make personal sacrifices.
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?
There’s not just one specific person, but rather a lot of people I’ve crossed paths with throughout my career. I constantly try to learn from everyone I work with, from managers to colleagues and aim to find the right mix for myself. It’s important to see how people react to countless situations, especially those who need to manage unprecedented events. At ScoutCam, I’ve always thought that it’s all about people and I try and observe how different managers communicate with people in various scenarios and how that type of communication ends up influencing the scenario as a whole.
What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?
This is an easy one. Professionally, I’d like to lead ScoutCam toward great success, and position the company as a global leader of small and very resistant visualization solutions. Personally, I’d like to master the work-life balance.
What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?
To show other company leaders that you can accomplish great achievements by managing your company in harmony, as a united team, with minimal hierarchy, and where everyone feels equal at a large extent.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger!
This would come down to my background as a scientist. I would like to find a way to influence humanity to respect scientists more and make it a more appealing career path. We need to find a way to make science more attractive for talented individuals. I believe that many of our current major problems would have been long resolved if there was more attention being drawn to scientists.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Mainly LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/yaronsilberman.