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Profile: Aviva Peisach, R&D manager of the Wix Identity company

Women in Tech: “Dream big, do big, and help others”

Dominik Mohilo
women in tech

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 Aviva Peisach, leader of the backend engineering guild at Wix and R&D manager of the Wix Identity company.

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 Aviva Peisach, leader of the backend engineering guild at Wix and R&D manager of the Wix Identity company.

Today’s Woman in Tech: Aviva Peisach, Wix

Aviva Peisach is leading Wix’s backend engineering guild and is an R&D manager of the Wix Identity company within WiX. Aviva has been leading R&D teams for over 20 years, with experience as VP of R&D and engineering director at a variety of startups and corporations.

Aviva also founded the Women in Tech forum, a bi-monthly meetup focusing on empowerment, diversity, and technology. She is passionate about continued growth, knowledge sharing, and making a positive impact on people, technology, and products. Aviva is also a proud wife, mother to three children, a passionate belly dancer, baker, and children’s book author.

When did you become interested in technology?

I bought my first PC for my 12th birthday and started by learning how to code and write simple games and applications. I was drawn to the ability to create my own world from scratch. The ability to write a few lines of code and create something that didn’t exist before that could then be used and enjoyed by others was simply magic to me.

How did you end up in your career path?

Although my high school focus was on STEM, I was always equally drawn to HASS (Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences) due to its focus on creativity and the human perspective. As a teenager, I was frustrated with the fact that I had to pick one major. It was only several years later that I discovered computer science and that a career in the tech industry could actually provide an amazing combination of both worlds (STEM & HASS). In this role, I use creativity via coding, product and solution thinking, and make a positive impact on people as a result of the products provided. Through my managerial role now, I am able to assist in the professional and personal growth of my reports. When I delivered my first product (a call center monitoring system) and saw it used in action, I understood this was my calling all along.

I picked Computer Science and Mathematics majors as part of an academic reserve program in the IDF, and coded as part of my military service. I then started a developer position in a large telecommunications company and progressed into R&D leadership roles. I’ve been in the high tech industry for over 20 years, mostly in engineering leadership roles (VP R&D, engineering director) in both startups and large organizations and across different domains (Fintech, Ad tech, and retail)

I see obstacles as challenges you need to overcome to grow your skills and confidence. From that perspective, I try to push myself out of my comfort zone and seek challenges. These challenges are most apparent when I’m joining a new organization and I need to reinvent myself to best fit and leverage the specific organization, as well as gain the trust and collaboration of my coworkers. I feel that like athletes, in order to continually grow, you need to improve your strength (professional expertise & experience) and flexibility (the ability to reinvent yourself and not rely on past assumptions), which is why I seek “out of my comfort zone” opportunities on a daily basis.

Did you receive support from your family and friends?

My parents are my role models. They are both engineers and had successful careers in the tech world. Plus, they kept an impressive work-life-family balance (even before this term had to be invented).

I was lucky to always have their support, raising me to believe I can succeed and achieve anything I put my mind and hard work into.

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

Luckily, from early on in my career, I was surrounded by very supportive managers and peers. Also, I tend to have such high standards and expectations for myself, that it’s hard for someone external to compete with my self-criticism.

Thanks to my parents, I always believed that if you give it your best, you will succeed. Even if someone did try to compete with or stop me, I didn’t pay much attention to them. I continued to be driven by my own standards, and focused on the voices of my support group until I either achieved what I set as my goal, or failed and learned from my own mistakes.

A day in Aviva’s life

Today, I’m leading server engineering at the website building platform Wix, where I’m responsible for the professional growth, knowledge sharing, and community cultivation of a growing team of 400 server developers. I’m also a Research and Development (R&D) Manager of the Wix Identity department, where I am in charge of Wix’s platform authentication and authorization solutions.

The exciting part about my work is that every day is different. I lead across several different Wix projects, so I’m meeting with dozens of people everyday. My day-to-day can include anything from envisioning overarching strategy, creating new products, leading projects from inception to production, interviewing and recruiting people, consulting and mentoring developers and managers in their growth paths, mapping common concerns across the organization and seeking ways to resolve them, solving production issues and retrospecting on what we can learn and improve, building our engineering community and brand, and promoting knowledge sharing across the organization. There is literally never a dull moment!

I feel that like athletes, in order to continually grow, you need to improve your strength (professional expertise & experience) and flexibility (the ability to reinvent yourself and not rely on past assumptions), which is why I seek “out of my comfort zone” opportunities on a daily basis.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I’m very proud of the impact I make on people by helping them grow and find their own unique paths. I’m also proud of my work in the product sector, as my work relies on finding innovative and sustainable solutions that make end users’ lives easier. I’ve also loved helping organizations grow, thrive, and adapt to changing needs.

One of the initiatives I’m very proud of is the “Women in Tech” forum I’ve established and led for over 3 years. We host bi-monthly meetups featuring discussions about diversity, empowerment, and technology. The meetups provide an amazing opportunity for women in tech in Israel to network, get inspired, gain practical tools for their careers and personal brands, and help other women in their high tech journeys.

Why aren’t there more women in tech?

I believe that this is a result of a combination of factors:

  1. Society is still biased in regards to women’s abilities and inclinations towards STEM, and as much as we’d like to think otherwise, many studies show we’re all biased. This creates a barrier for women to select STEM majors from middle school onwards, as they tend to believe they are less likely to succeed and typically won’t have a supportive group of female friends joining STEM-related extracurricular activities. Plus, young girls typically do not have a lot of female role models in tech.
  2. The current state of the tech industry, in which women are a minority within the core technological professions, makes it harder to enter existing workspaces and thrive.
  3. Currently, tech employers are not doing enough to attract female employees by creating and promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace culture and investing in creative recruitment funnels.

I’m very optimistic and see some results already. When I was getting my computer science degree at TLV University, Women were ~5% of my class. Today, women are 50% of the students!

Would our world be different if more women worked in STEM?

I believe that once (not if) more women work in STEM, the world will be a better place. I mean that not as an idealistic cliche, but as a data-proven fact. The more diversity we bring to our workplace, the more creative our workplaces become.

Diversity in the workplace means bringing in more perspectives and more opinions which always enriches innovative processes and makes the products we produce more holistic in considering different needs and different aspects of our end users.

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

I’m very optimistic and see some results already. When I was getting my computer science degree at TLV University, Women were ~5% of my class. Today, women are 50% of the students! I was astounded by this fact when I was giving a talk there a couple of months back.

More and more girls are selecting STEM majors in junior high and high schools. I believe that this is both due to the discussion and awareness on diversity, but even more so, this is a direct result of activities that women currently in the tech industry participate in: serving as active role models, providing mentorship and support for women starting their journey, and encouraging young women to join this industry.

Each of us is creating a small change that accumulates together into an incremental but major impact on the bottom line.

What advice (and tips) would you give to women who want a tech career?

Just do it! The tech industry is a place for endless growth and creation. It’s a place where writing lines of code can result in the creation of new products and solutions that can change people’s lives. It’s a thriving industry that is so dynamic that you can always find a place to grow your knowledge, expertise, responsibility, and impact.

I encourage young women to build their support group (friends and family that are there to remind you that you can achieve anything), push themselves out of their comfort zone, and be part of others’ support and mentorship groups. Dream big, do big, and help others.

More Women in Tech:

For even more Women in Tech, click here

Author
Dominik Mohilo
Dominik Mohilo studied German and sociology at the Frankfurt University, and works at S&S Media since 2015.

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