days
0
-95
-6
hours
-1
0
minutes
0
-5
seconds
0
-2
search
Profile: Saray Ben-Meir, Chief-of-Staff and Corporate Innovation at SQream

Women in Tech: “Don’t be afraid to voice your thoughts and opinions”

Sarah Schlothauer

Four years ago, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Saray Ben-Meir, Chief-of-Staff and Corporate Innovation at SQream.

research study by The National Center for Women & Information Technology showed that “gender diversity has specific benefits in technology settings,” which could explain why tech companies have started to invest in initiatives that aim to boost the number of female applicants, recruit them in a more effective way, retain them for longer, and give them the opportunity to advance. But is it enough?

Four years ago, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Saray Ben-Meir, Chief-of-Staff and Corporate Innovation at SQream.

Today’s Woman in Tech: Saray Ben-Meir, Chief-of-Staff and Corporate Innovation, SQream

As SQream’s Chief-of-Staff, Saray works across teams to ensure alignment on broad and strategic initiatives across the company, building partnerships, leading organizational changes and leadership design, driving constant process improvement, and ensuring the organization abides by its cultural values. Saray brings over two decades of experience in the hi-tech industry, in both corporate and startup organizations, in Israel and abroad.

Saray also serves on SQream’s Executive Innovation Team, which envisions and incubates SQream’s next-generation products, creates partnerships with strategic stakeholders, and integrates those projects into the work stream of the company.

Saray is also responsible for creating an elite group of advanced development engineers across departments to create new technology that delivers higher levels of value to data driven enterprises.

Prior to SQream, Saray served in diverse HR and operational roles at prominent hi-tech companies including NICE and Sapiens.

When did you become interested in technology? What first got you interested in tech?

I have worked at technology companies for over two decades exploring ways to accelerate innovation by encouraging creativity and collaboration. From my first entry-level position in HR, I focused on fostering an intrapreneurial spirit within larger companies.

Let’s talk about your background. How did you end up in your career path? What obstacles did you have to overcome?

Formally under the title of human resources, I first become responsible for developing cross-functional teams of tech and business professionals when the Canadian start-up that I joined was acquired. I was responsible for identifying experts from both companies who had complementary skills to design a new organization that would take our joint offering to the next level.

Did you receive support from your family and friends? Do you have a role model?

Because I have a different perspective focused on people and the whole organization, I can often provide valuable input that can be an asset.

My family is very supportive, and my children take for granted that women can take a leadership role in a technology company. I believe when it’s their time to forge a career women in tech will be even more of the norm.

My personal role model is the philosopher and writer Ayn Rand because of her belief in individualism and excellence over mediocrity. My favorite quote of hers is – The question is not who is going to let me – but who is going to stop me.

Did anyone ever try to stop you from learning and advancing in your professional life?

My background is not technical but I always worked with very technical professionals, I’ve always strived to learn and dive into the details and understand deeply what we do. Along my career I had situations where technical people were reluctant at first to trust that I will understand their answers.

Very quickly, however, they discover that due to my natural curiosity, passion for learning, and because I have a different perspective focused on people and the whole organization, I can often provide valuable input that can be an asset.

From my experience, listening, analyzing, finding practical solutions that will get the job done earns me respect from those who might initially question my authority.

A day in Saray’s life

In my current role as Head of Corporate Innovation and Chief of Staff, I am responsible for various strategic initiatives that require multi-disciplinary talents combined with a network of tech experts inside and outside the company.

One of those initiatives, working together with the CTO, is to find the best way to develop new innovative product ideas that are out of the mainstream. For example, three years ago we launched SQream Nano, a very small device that processes heavy data analytics. Since the product was for a different market than our typical customers, I, together with our CTO mapped the solution to different verticals to see where there is the most significant need. I developed discovery sessions based on my personal network of experts to explore IoT use cases including smart city applications and others.

I worked with this task force from incubation until it was ready to become an official item in our product portfolio.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am very proud of the road we have done at SQream, a company who took upon itself a very ambitious mission with technical complexities that huge companies struggle to overcome. I’ve been with SQream for almost 8 years and the biggest lesson I’ve learned is about the team’s determination and belief that we can meet our challenges. So many things along the way could have stopped us, but we didn’t let go. Knowing our end goal was helping companies make better decisions by improving the efficiency of their data processing in large scale.

I am especially proud of how our technology is able to dramatically accelerate cancer research by increasing the amount of data that can be analyzed while reducing the time to reach meaningful results.

Why aren’t there more women in tech? What’s your take on that?

First, I am happy to see this trend is changing and we see a larger number of women in the tech industry. Today I see a much bigger effort in schools to expose women to tech fields from an early age, which will pave their way to the tech industry later on. Unfortunately, in our technical domain, there’s a much smaller pool of qualified female candidates.

However, I feel that our company and others benefit by having women on teams because they tend to have higher emotional intelligence, are naturally better listeners, and when there is a conflict, they can find a middle ground faster.

In addition, I find that women have exceptional organizational skills and are very good at finding practical solutions. Put simply, they get the job done.

Could you name a few challenges (or obstacles) women in tech face?

The most knows and spoken one is combining career with being a parent. The tech industry is well known by its demanding working hours and some women are concerned about balancing professional and personal life. Men and women are still not being treated equally on that aspect.

Other than that, I don’t feel that I experienced friction because I was female. If I did my job well and achieved my objectives, the fact that I was a woman didn’t matter. When I excelled at my job, people were more interested in my results than my gender.

You will be judged on your results, so excel in whatever they do.

How would our world be different if more women worked in STEM? What would be the (social, economic, and cultural) impact?

First, women could pioneer new ways to use technology. For example, HOUZZ was founded by a woman, Adi Tatarko, and her husband to help them explore different design alternatives and to manage them manage their renovation.

Women can identify opportunities for innovation in fields that men are less familiar with.

Having more women in tech will make our society more diverse, will open opportunities also for men (as their role today is still being the main provider ) and offer greater independence for women. I think women have great skills for leadership and the tech industry could be a gate to see more women in leading positions in other fields as well (political, industrial and more).

The discussion about diversity is gaining momentum. How long will it take to see results from the current discussion?

I think that we already started to see a positive change but I believe that it will take another decade until we will see 50% women presence in tech companies.

What advice (and tips) would you give to women who want a tech career? What should they know about this industry?

You will be judged on your results, so excel in whatever they do.

Don’t expect any special favors and don’t take shortcuts.

Speak your mind! Don’t be afraid to voice your thoughts and opinions. Even if you make a mistake, learn from it and try again, don’t let anyone stop you. By having a different perspective you can contribute to a new discovery.

More Women in Tech:

For even more Women in Tech, click here

Author
Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer

All Posts by Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer is the editor for JAXenter.com. She received her Bachelor's degree from Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey. She currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany with her husband and cat where she enjoys reading, writing, and medieval reenactment. She is also the editor for Conditio Humana, an online magazine about ethics, AI, and technology.

guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments