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June 2008. I had been working in the world’s largest developer and manufacturer of inspection and repair systems for PCB and FPD, for three months as Assistant Corporate Treasurer. I was thrilled when the Corporate Treasure asked me to oversee our relations with the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS), a role she previously oversaw directly.
This involved serving as a liaison between my company and the OCS and the European Union who supported our R&D projects. I was responsible for constructing financial reports and overseeing correspondence with these authorities.

Chosen out of 3 employees, I knew this was an opportunity for me to take on a more substantial role in the company. I was eager to take on the complex challenge of managing a budget of $4 Million worth of subsidies.

As soon as I began analyzing the projects’ performance, I realized we were facing serious crisis. I identified that R&D personnel were under-reporting expenses, preventing us from maximizing our eligibility for approved subsidies. I realized that being in charge of reporting would not be sufficient. In order to rectify the situation I knew that a re-evaluation of the projects’ financial management was also needed.

I recognized that the problem stemmed from lack of awareness and insufficient follow-up from the R&D management, the sole parties responsible for both technical and financial reporting.
I organized and led Quarterly Meetings with 3 teams of 3-4 R&D Managers, enabling us to reveal unreported expenses, as well as anticipate future problems that may arise. This method increased grant utilization by 15%.

I felt that there was still more that could be done to further maximize. I came up with the idea of a system that would enable corporate management and R&D mangers to follow up on projects’ monthly progress.
I presented the idea to Head of R&D Processes, who had vast experience with such systems. He immediately came on-board. I knew I would face resistance from the IT Department, since funds for the system would come from their budget. Realizing my enthusiasm alone would not suffice to convince them, The Head of R&D Processes and I put our heads together to create a presentation that would target what bothered the IT most, cost. I presented my vision to 2 IT Managers, by highlighting the return on investment from the report’s construction and convinced them of the system’s necessity.

I then spearheaded the system’s design. I consulted with 3 senior Product Managers to decide how to achieve maximum impact, and then oversaw the work of the service provider we hired to construct the system.
In the 2 months it took for the system became to become operational, I increased the frequency of meetings with the R&D teams, which now include creating expense forecasts, to a monthly basis.
The report is sent monthly to the company CTO, CFO and approximately 20 R&D Product and Project Managers. The process will enable us to increase subsidies by up to an additional 15%.

This opportunity showed me that when facing a task, it is best to envision the long-term goal, create milestones, and then achieve them one-by-one. Through my work with R&D managers, I learned how to lead within a team. By overseeing 120 R&D personnel my management skills developed tremendously. The challenge and successful result inspired me to “think big”. Perhaps most importantly, it instilled within me a confidence in my abilities to promote change within an organization and a desire to continue on this path.

I had been Bar Manger in the Green Villa for two years, where I was managing bar responsibilities in events of up to 400 people, when I decided to leave in order to manage my grandfather’s business. I had been in charge of recruiting, training and managing the over 10 bartending employees as well as pricing and managing $10,000 worth of inventory.

When I handed my resignation to the manager, I assured him that I would not only find my replacement, but properly train him/her no matter how long it took.
Emotionally attached to the place and the people, I was very passionate about the bar and its development. I considered it my personal mission to find someone who would be the best for the job. I began by reviewing my 5-person staff to determine if anyone ‘in-house’ was qualified to take over; otherwise, I would have had to explore the option of hiring someone. I much preferred promoting from within, despite the lack in management experience. I believed the high level of commitment of my employees, as well as their excellent relationships with the rest of the Green Villa staff, was crucial.

I knew that I had a rough diamond among my staff, Dan. Extremely efficient and professional, Dan possessed excellent customer relations skills and got along well with his fellow employees. In spite of all these elements there was a big problem – his maturity. I knew I had a huge task ahead of me: guiding Dan through the transition from an employee mind-set of a manager. I knew that given the right guidance, Dan was the best candidate to replace me. I was eager to help him become the professional manager that the Green Villa deserved.
I related my decision to the company manager and he agreed that Dan was the right person for the job. When I offered Dan the position, he was very delighted and accepted on the spot.

I began by taking him through the logistic responsibilities. To ensure that Dan approached each task with the necessary attention, I stressed the importance of each responsibility for ensuring Customer satisfaction. Within 2 weeks I encouraged Dan to assume logistic responsibilities while I monitored. Believing dialog is a crucial tool for guidance, when the occasional mistake occurred I would point it out and discuss with him the logic behind the appropriate decision-making process. I saw that Dan responded well to this kind of feedback, as his organizational capabilities strengthened and his confidence grew.
The most delicate aspect of this training period was managing the transition of Dan’s status in relation to the staff. This was crucial to both shift assignments and actual work behind the bar. I stressed to Dan the considerations that must guide him when filling all shifts: as the manager, he is responsible for ensuring a balance between creating a strong team and considering employees’ availability, abilities and needs.

I emphasized the importance of personal example, responsibility and welcoming feedback from the staff. Through an exercise where we conceptualized the ideal employee, we highlighted traits Dan must aspire to demonstrate through his work as manager.

After 2 months, I knew Dan was ready. I gave him control over all responsibilities, under my supervision. Of the opinion that mistakes are an indispensible part of learning, I would only intervene on rare occasions. I would offer my feedback after events and we would review what had happened. I first challenged him to analyze the event through his eyes. Then I suggested alternatives and pointed out several things he had missed, discussing the implications both on the event and the long-term work.

After 3 months, the time came for my final goodbye. I made it clear to Dan that I would always be available. I knew the bar was in good hands: Dan had effectively transformed from team-mate to professional manager. He earned the trust of his employees, providing constructive criticism and positive feedback when needed, while being attentive to their needs. A month later, when I stopped by, the HR told me that I had made the right choice, and that Dan was proving himself to be quite an effective manager, confident and full of initiative. When Dan called me 2 months later, thanking me for pushing him forward and guiding him, I felt great personal satisfaction.

It was 2005 and my young company was taking its very first steps. The founders had a vision to bring a whole new world of personalized content to the mobile text messaging service I was invited by the company’s VP to join the venture, to coordinate the engineering aspects of the product and help my company make the dream come true. I had the privilege to be the first employee of the company and a part of the initial decision-making process.

In one of the early meetings, the CEO presented us with the company’s 3-year strategy – “We will start by building our own technology foundations and only then start the sales and marketing efforts”, he announced.

I had some hesitations to object the experienced business man, but I really wanted to express my concerns. I turned to him and said “Building an expertise takes a long time; we have only a few years before mobile Internet takes over and text messages are replaced by emails and IMs, and by then our product will have become obsolete.” Instead, I proposed that we hire external contractors to shorten the time to market.

The CEO pondered this for a few seconds and said – “You’re right, I haven’t entirely thought of that; we really don’t have much time. But first, we do not have enough fluid money to pay a contractor right now, and second, it’s somewhat risky to be involved in intense marketing without a solid technology base.” and at this point the meeting was adjourned

He made me aware to the risks in my suggestion, but I sincerely believed that agile development and marketing can improve the chances of the company to succeed. I had a basic idea of how to address the flaws in my suggestion, but I wanted to back it up with objective figures. I started a market research and consulted other entrepreneurs and investors. After several days I felt confident enough with my arguments.

I stepped into the CEO’s office and presented my plan – “We have a promising idea, we can find a contractor who’s willing to work for a share of our future income. We won’t have to pay him a substantial amount of cash right away”. “Furthermore”, I said, “We will be able to allocate our resources to the marketing department, hire designers on the expense of engineers and focus on content generation. We will be able to progress faster”.

The CEO was listening the entire time. Then he looked at the figures and told me: “I appreciate your initiative; you’ve raised some very interesting points. I’d like to discuss this with the other founder and I’ll let you know what we’ve decided”.

Eventually, the company adopted most principles of my plan. We started looking for a contractor right away. The product’s development and the marketing process were paralleled and only 6 months later we launched the our service with the country’s largest mobile operator.

Over the past year at Accenture, I have been working on MDM, Master Data Management, implementations. MDM is a new way to establish a centralized and efficient way to manage data in large-scale organizations. In July 2011 I participated in an MDM conference, including high-level executives from organizations across industries seeking more information on MDM projects or currently involved in MDM implementation.

Interested in hearing about the current MDM projects in my country and technological trends in local data management, I learned that many MDM projects over the past couple of years have failed, though I wasn’t sure why. I met with the IT strategic manager of one of the largest health-care providers, and we discussed some his organization’s current pain points and how their current MDM project would address them. Most importantly, we discussed the possible reasons the project was not yielding the expected results.

I considered why the health-care project seemed to be failing. The local IT market has its own characteristics, and although some of my experience has been overseas, I knew from experience that there was something missing: there was no emphasis at all on Data Quality and Governance. Later that week, I wrote back to the same IT strategic manager and asked about the state of his organization’s Data Quality and Data Governance initiatives. The answer I received was simple: there were none.

First of all, I wanted to present my idea to him, as I was interested in his reaction to the idea of adding a Data Governance role to the project team. Secondly, I wanted to persuade him that the problem was not in the way they ran and implemented the MDM project, which was excellent. The shortcoming was in managing the data once the technology was in place. I developed my own Data Quality and Governance document designed specifically to address the problems he identified in his organization. I noted back to the time I first met him at the conference and tried linking every pain point he mentioned to how the specific MDM solution was solving it. Then, I explained the how a Data Quality initiative would solve each pain point in the long run. I relied on my experience in MDM projects and my knowledge of the local MDM shortcomings when conveying my idea. I had a sense that the manager wanted me to “cut to the chase” and tell him exactly how what I was suggesting was going to help him.

I sent him the document I had written and received from him a warm note thanking me for the document and for opening his eyes to this new world called ‘Data Governance’. I knew I had convinced him of the importance of a Data Quality initiative, but it was only a few months later, when I heard that his MDM project team brought in a consultant specializing in Data Governance, that I was sure I made a difference.

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