I started working at Neura two years ago after working for four years in the Israeli Ministry of Finance. Coming from the public sector, I worked in a huge organization that was built in a very hierarchal structure and wasn’t very tech oriented (and that’s an understatement). I had a very interesting and satisfying period working for the government and being part of the public sector, but I ultimately decided I was ready for a change. Jump ahead to me joining a tech company in Herzliya (the Palo Alto of Israel), where I found myself in a work environment that was 180 degrees different.
I arrived at Neura, a startup company that was less than three years old and with ~25 employees. I quickly realized it isn’t just a startup company; it’s a sophisticated AI technological company. I didn’t even know what the basic acronyms such as API and SDK meant – you can imagine my shock in the first daily stand up meeting – I didn’t understand anything! And not in a sense that ‘I’m new and I don’t know the projects’ – I really had no clue what they were talking about. What is a sprint and what are they planning to release?
But Neura is a place that doesn’t let you feel left out. With the great patience of our amazing product and R&D teams, I was taught the basic terms and gradually got to know and understand our unique technology. Being the Finance and Operations person in the company, I thought it wouldn’t necessarily require me to be familiar with what’s going on in the R&D cycles, but I quickly understood I was wrong. Neura has a clear path that it is going in and we are constantly reminded and updated of the company’s KPI’s in order to make sure that what we are doing helps get the company to its goals. Despite having a very different role in the company and my day-to-day work being in domains that are different from the majority of the company, the collaboration and sharing enables all of us to feel part of one dedicated team.
What was more surprising to me was that as time went by, I found out how my work is integrated with domains and processes that I wouldn’t intuitively think I would touch. Responsibility for cost optimization challenged me to understand how the technology’s infrastructure is built, what tools are we using and how changing components and processes affect costs and performance. Reducing our COGS (costs of goods sold) is an ongoing effort the whole company is involved in and the input of people with different perspective such as budget, customer facing, technology constraints and more is necessary to succeed in this.
Compliance issues regarding privacy and security confronted me with our security methodologies and the way we handle data. As we grow and onboard large customers, the importance of these issues become even more clear. A significant part of my role has become understanding the regulatory environment in which we work and communicating this to our sales, R&D and product teams. This ensures we are all aligned and prepared for audits and any other customer request.
Lastly, working with customers on business agreements has given me a window to understand our customer’s needs and how they experience our product. I discovered there are many ways for me to contribute in domains and processes that have an impact on our technology and how we work.
I am amazed now by how much I have learned and I truly feel that although I started as someone from the outside, I am now 100% on the inside. My experience in Neura is constantly teaching me the importance of breaking out of our comfort zone. Both technical and non-technical professionals alike can be agile in developing ourselves and breaking boundaries – just like the startups for which we work. The group of people I am now surrounded by are similar to me in these senses. Ultimately, that’s one of the most important ingredients in our secret sauce.
I now realize the strongest technology companies have an understanding, appreciation and even a love of the technology by everyone, even those of us who have never coded.