Women in Leadership Podcast: Rinat Bialer-Hayun

A few months ago, on International Women’s Day, I was reminded yet gain what a celebration of women it had become: the events, the workshops, the videos, the newsletters, the gazillion campaigns and ads piggybacking on a day that is supposed to make a difference…

But soon enough, as March 8th became March 9th, as the week passed and then March turned to April – we were again greeted with silence. Worse than silence: lack of representation. That’s when our team decided to go for something slightly different: an ongoing podcast project celebrating women in leadership – especially those who have something to say about the future of work – and taking this opportunity to learn from them.

First up is Rinat Bialer-Hayun, who heads Talent Acquisition at WeWork Technology in Israel. I’ve been lucky enough to call Rinat a close friend for the last 3 years. She’s someone I look up to both personally and professionally, and whom I constantly learn from when it comes to people matters.

Listen to our conversation right here, or read the transcript below:

Chedva: Can you start by telling me about your role and what brings you here?

Rinat: Currently, I am heading the talent acquisition team at WeWork Technology in Israel. I joined We Work to build the department discipline from scratch and help the company grow rapidly. I also lead the company’s efforts to build new Technology sites in India and Singapore.

Chedva: What kind of manager are you?

Rinat: I love my people, I come to work with a great passion. I really do what I love, and I am investing a lot on putting a focus on collaboration. I always remember that the team wants to succeed as a team but also as individuals, so I am putting a lot of effort into mentoring, coaching, and learning sessions. Also, I built career development plans with each one of my team members.
One great point of feedback that my team gave me in the last evaluation process that was really amazing to hear was that each one of them knows that they always have my back. Even though I am very busy, flying around the world, they know that they have me whenever they need me. I am a strong believer in ownership, so I give them the opportunity to lead, highly believe in them and trust them to run and to manage projects on their own. I give a lot of respect to failures, to make mistakes, this is a lesson that I learned in the past from one of my managers that was one of my role models during my career. I learned to make room for mistakes, and to let people shine from successes, but also grow from mistakes.

Chedva: Amazing. You mentioned you fly a lot and you manage a lot of people. What are some of the tools you use to manage your time to make sure you’re on top of all of your responsibilities?

Rinat: I constantly manage my time, focus on my people but also on clear goals and priorities. I call on myself as well as my team to save time for the important areas of life. We can work 24/7, especially in rapid growth, but I want to make sure that people stay happy. I save time on my calendar twice a week to leave the office early and go pick up my kids, which is a good time to reserve energy and be a parent, which is important to me. I save time for one on ones as well and to make sure that they are in the calendar. I recommend understanding that time is an essential tool but also a limited resource, and the way to manage it well is to know your priorities all the way through.

Chedva: How do you spend your flights?

Rinat: I watch movies! Honestly, It’s my only time to watch movies. I work a lot, I’m very involved mother and I have a lot of other areas that I am involved in. I volunteer, I used to teach for the past years at universities, I am a very proud mother, I have a great partner at home, and I also have a circle of close friends. I am trying to find time for all of those and for everything I love doing, during the intense week. Just as an example, on my last flight back to Israel from San Francisco, I saw the movie “A Star Is Born”, and it is a great time for me to relax and watch things that I wouldn’t usually have time for.

Chedva: What are three meaningful stations that you can pinpoint in your career so far?

Rinat: So I think that twelve years ago, shifting to HR and talent acquisition, which I see is very unique and important field, really changed my life. Before this, I always got feedback about my ability to interact with people, and about my ability to impact people’s lives. I didn’t understand that when I was younger, that this would end up being my career. First, choosing to put a spot and to make this my career in the area that I am good at.

Second, not afraid to take risks, chances and opportunities along the way. I think that it helped me a lot during my career, which I believe that we as women are not doing enough. I find myself meeting a lot of people, and I see that there is something that I define in the gender that men take more risks and opportunities, they aren’t afraid to apply for positions that they have not 100% experience, not afraid to lead in areas that are new to a company. This is something that I dared to do in my career, and I think it made a huge difference for me.

The third one, is to stay human. I think one of the biggest mistakes of people in careers and when they strive for management is to believe that if you want to stay assertive, you need to lose a sense of humanity. I find that being human is one of my key strong areas. I put a lot of focus on listening to people, caring about my people, and staying connected to this area in my heart and in my life.

So I think that twelve years ago, shifting to HR and talent acquisition, , really changed my life. Before this, I always got feedback about my ability to interact with and empower people, and about my ability to impact people’s lives. I didn’t understand that when I was younger, that this would end up being my career. First, choosing to put a spot and to make this my career in the area that I am good at and I just love it and enjoy it.
Second, not afraid to take risks, chances and opportunities along the way. I think that it helped me a lot during my career, which I believe that we as women are not doing enough. I find myself meeting a lot of people, and I see that there is something that I define in the gender that men take more risks and opportunities, they aren’t afraid to apply for positions that they have not 100% experience, not afraid to lead in areas that are new to a company. This is something that I dared to do in my career, and I think it made a huge difference for me.
The third one, is to stay human. I think that one of the biggest mistakes of people in careers and when they strive for management is to believe that if you want to stay assertive, you need to keep a distance, or to lose a sense of humanity. I find that being human is one of my key strong areas. I put a lot of focus on listening to people, caring about my people, and staying connected to this area in my heart and in my life.

Chedva: Do you have any tips for identifying opportunities within your career and acting on it?

Rinat: I think that first of all, sitting around the decision making table as part of the management and the business and not being afraid to speak up and have your voice heard is critical if you want to influence. Second of all, building relationships all along the way allowed me to figure out about new opportunities or new chances to make an influence. As an example, I can point out an opportunity that I had on past was that I was sent on a flight to Korea, to check if I could build a new site there. By using my networking and the people I met there, while also listening to the people I met there who know the area of Asia very well, I noticed that we might make mistakes on just focusing on that strategically. I came back with data, insights and more advice for the founders and CEO which gave me a great lesson. We opened the next site in Japan, as I recommended, so I think that the way to realize the opportunity is to think outside of the box, use data and give a value. Try to understand what will make a difference, try to maximize potential in people as well as the business.

Chedva: What do you think the biggest pain point is for managers in 2019?

Rinat: I think the biggest pain point is that unfortunately there are many managers that think that it is all about the money, and it’s really not. People want to make sure that they have an impact and a great sense of influence, and that they are contributing.They want to feel part of something big and meaningful, which connected to their values. The current generation cares a lot about their mission. People also want to understand that they are coming to work and having a voice and an opportunity to grow. It really isn’t about the money, you need to see your people, listen to your people and ask them how can you help them and what they need in order to succeed.

It really isn’t about the money, you need to see your people, listen to your people and what they need in order to succeed.

Chedva: What do you think is the biggest point for employees in 2019?

Rinat: I think it’s a pretty intense period. People work hard to make sure that they have a balance between work and life, they want to make sure that they have a respect from their manager and organization. They want to be diverse- to do what they love but also to have hobbies, be parents, spouses, to travel and to explore the world.

Chedva: Where do you get your energy and inspiration from?

Rinat: I am getting inspiration from women around me that really gave me life lessons during my career. One of them was Deb Howington, she hired me to Microsoft twelve years ago. She was sent by Microsoft to build a new R&D center in Israel. The inspirational area that I remember from her are that potential and motivation are stronger than experience. I took this lesson and always remind myself of it when I choose new people to my team, when I am meeting people to help them find their own career, and about myself. Second, I am reading a lot. I also try to find a daily time to listen to podcasts, to read blogs, to get inspiration from HR leaders outside of Israel to bring new ideas and trends and information and tools that are essential. Basically, I never stop learning. I am also learning a lot from my team, those areas togethers help me to grow.

Potential and motivation are stronger than experience

Chedva: Do you have any book recommendations?

Rinat: Yes! The first book I recommend is, “The Art of Hearing Heartbeats”. It has a few messages in the book that I took away from it. First is to stay authentic and to listen to yourself, stay connected to your beliefs and values, very core basic foundational skills. The second one is “Lean In”, written by Sheryl Sandberg. I think it’s a great book in terms of advice, how to cope with challenges in careers and how to use opportunities as a place to impact and grow. I think that the great asset of this book to my career was to dare. To be my myself and to not be afraid to take challenges.

Chedva: What drains you?

Rinat: It’s hard for me to see areas where people are used as a resource, instead of looking at each one of them as a person. Another thing I don’t like to see is managers using power in the wrong way.

Chedva: If we were to rebrand HR for 2019, what would be a better name for it?

Rinat: I think a good HR is a people builder and company builder. The combination of helping people but also helping the organization to maximize potential is something I look forward to seeing our field going to.

Chedva: What did you study in college?

Rinat: I grew up in a very zionistic family, so my first passion and thought about career was advocacy. I took part in three years in a program to the Israeli Service (״Atidim”, cadets to the Israeli public service) and I really believed that I was going to change the world through the public sector. After school I spent one year abroad in the US, doing advocacy on behalf of the Jewish Agency and I was sure that I was going to come back to take a cadets course in foreign affairs. It was a great time to make a process inside about everything I learned about myself and after I did an internship in the government as a student. I realized that it is much more basic than I thought- if you choose a career that aligns with your beliefs and values, it is much more important. Than I chose to go for a career in HR.

Chedva: What would you learn today if you had the opportunity to go back to school?

Rinat: I have a masters degree in organizational consulting, but if I were to go back to college, I would learn towards a PhD in positive psychology. I think that the tools that I learn from this field are incredible, and it allows me to think out of the box at work and to find inner perspective on challenging times.

Chedva: Who is your current role model?

Rinat: I have a few! I can tell you that my grandmother passed away last year, and she was my best role model in a way that she came from a different generation, and family was everything to her. More than anything, she was very human, she was a great listener, and really cared about the people she was surrounded with, and always let them know that she is there for them. Second, she was my trusted advisor, which is exactly what I am trying to be for my team members as well as for my friends and family. Another great role model for me is Orna Barbivai, who recently became a politician after many years of serving an impact as a human resources leader in the IDF. I think that Orna has a rare combination of humanity and professionalism. When she takes something as a responsibility, she is doing it in the best way. She puts a lot of effort and investment in every single thing that she chooses to make an impact on. I was privileged enough to work with her and learn from her and when I needed advice or needed a new perspective, I will always call Orna.

Chedva: How do you recognize high potentials?

Rinat: I found that high potentials come to work with a great passion, they really do what they love and love what they do. They have a lot of motivation to learn, to enter new areas, and I think that it is much more essential than any other experience.

Chedva: How do you inject energy into a tired team?

Rinat: That’s a great question, and I think it is the responsibility of us as managers in such an intense world. I am doing a lot of routine breaks with my team, almost every week we have something scheduled that is not involved in the day-to-day calls and tasks. For example, I took my team to a team building day out of the office, combined between a workshop that I lead at the beginning. We did a lot of creativity with drawing and fun. It was a time for them to reflect on themselves and tell their story and evaluate their purpose as a team member. The second part of the day was challenging them. We took them to the market, and they needed to pick up vegetables and then received a task to find a family, and convince the family (that didn’t know who they were) to let them cook the vegetables inside of their house. This is one example. I am also investing a lot of time in breaking routines to do learning and inspirational lectures to my team. I also give my team opportunities to build learning sessions with the business, that they own and run. Also, I put a lot of focus on fun, which is important! One of the things that I do is I start every weekly meeting with a song and dance, it’s our tradition.

Chedva: Do you prefer a weekly or offsite?

Rinat: Absolutely offsite! I think that weekly is a great opportunity to think and focus, but an offsite gives you the opportunity to stay away from the comfort zones and to do something different and to stop from the very intense routine and think. This also allows you to enjoy together and gather between the people, which I find essential for collaboration.

Chedva: What are your thoughts about growing within or growing across organizations?

Rinat: I think that there is no one answer in my point of view. Sometimes I find myself needing to grow out of the organization because the opportunities waiting for me outside of it were essential to my personal growth. Sometimes I grow inside the company. Plarium was a great example of that. I was with them for four years. I had a manager that really saw my potential and ability to grow inside a company, and I was promoted to a new position. I am very proud that at WeWork, there are many opportunities to grow inside the company, and I always tell managers and my team members that growing people internally is always much better than hiring people from the outside. The commitment, obligation, knowledge about the company, connection to the mission is essential, and people that feel that they have the room to grow inside of a company contributes a lot. So, I would say that if that is an option, always grow internally, but if you feel that you don’t have the room to grow internally, don’t be afraid to take decisions to grow outside.

Chedva: Nowadays, everyone has so much pressure on their career and finding the right path for them. What are your thoughts on the repercussions of making a mistake that can impact my career and reputation?

Rinat: I think that one of the key areas that I find myself telling people that I am mentoring is that we have so many changes in our daily life right now. One thing that I would throw outside of the room is the fear of change. It’s true, we are in a very intense period of never stopping change in the environment. I think that it is really essential to know what you want to do and to plan, but also to be flexible. I found myself throughout the years overcoming changes I didn’t plan on. A company that was acquired, an organizational change, a manager that left, etc. I think the best advice that I can say about this is don’t be afraid to take risks and to make mistakes. If you find yourself choosing a job that makes you unhappy, leave the job. Find a new job that helps you shine and makes you happy, because it isn’t worth it otherwise. We are spending so much time and hours working every single day, so if you are not happy, make a change. The second thing is sometimes we are taking opportunities, and we don’t know what to expect of it. Or, we go into a job thinking one thing and realize it is not what we thought it was going to be. I have two tips about this, one is to remember that the perspective of time matters. If the first week looks terrible, tell yourself you will take one or two months and make criteria that aligns with your passions and happiness. The second is to be flexible. Jump to the water with your opportunities. I will say that I see that women are usually scared to take risks during pregnancy. I was promoted during pregnancy, and I think that an area that I would like to encourage women not to be afraid of.

Chedva: When I think about growth, I think about…..

Rinat: Shining and never stop learning.

Chedva: What do people need to get to your position?

Rinat: Be yourself, really do what you love, never stop learning, and have a mentor to guide you. Mostly, stay tuned to your own beliefs and values and don’t get lost along the way.

Chedva: What is one last tip you can give us?

Rinat: One last tip that I will give is to just be yourself. I often found many people coming to interview and trying to sell storytelling that is not really related to themselves. Don’t take tips from people that will come to you and say the best things to talk about during an interview. Just be yourself, don’t try to sell a story that isn’t you, and understand that if you have an opportunity that isn’t going so well, it is just a direction to a better place.

Chedva: Thank you so much Rinat for coming here, I so appreciate you insights and advice and I am so sure that it will be relevant to our listeners and viewers.

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