When I was in elementary school, all students looked forward to career day. Having professional workers or a parent show up to school was probably one of the highlights of my elementary school memories. I still remember meeting doctors, firefighters, nurses, and crossing guards in my 3rd grade classroom dressed in uniforms, speaking to my class. I will never forget hearing about their daily responsibilities and amazing stories of heroism.
Fast forward to 1992. This was the year when the space shuttle, Endeavour, was launched into space, and Dr. Mae Jemison became the first African-American astronaut to orbit the earth. Watching the footage on TV, I remember being in awe at an early age, of her scientific background. Thankfully, there are so many more extraordinary and astute women today in science and technology. From trailblazer Angela Benton, whose mission is to highlight the endeavors of minority women entrepreneurs in the technology industry and Marisa Mayer, Google’s first female engineer and now president and CEO of Yahoo, to pioneers like Barbara McClintock who discovered the ‘jumping gene’, female leaders around the world are increasingly at the forefront of scientific and technological innovations. But, I also continue to wonder about the contributions of women in science and technology in other countries around the world, and how they have made an impact in a male dominated industry. If you think the United States is the only country to produce top and bright female leaders, think again. In fact, some of the most intelligent female technology leaders are from Israel. Is it truly possible for a female tech leader to help an internationally recognized startup to profits above $145 million? If your name is Dr. Michal Tsur, then yes, it is absolutely possible.
She isn’t just any lady who graduated from university with one single degree. Try three Ivy league degrees, including a doctoral degree from New York University, and a post-doctoral degree from Yale. Of course, it’s not and hasn’t been easy to be recognized in the male dominated industry of technology. In recent years, there have been many challenges that women face in the tech world, but Tsur isn’t just any lady — she is known as the ‘Iron Lady’ Of Israeli Startups. Tsur has already made a name for herself as the president and co-founder of Kaltura , the world’s only provider of open source online video software, and a co-founder of Cyota, an online security firm. With her experience and impact in the tech and entrepreneurship space, she shines above the disparities that affect women in the tech industry.
After selling Cyota, Tsur moved on to create Kaltura, often collaborating with big names such as AT&T, Disney, and HBO. In an interview with NoCamels, Tsur shared her thoughts about finding a work-life balance in the tech world and creating opportunities for more women. Prior to starting up Cyota, Tsur had no previous experience in technology or coding. In fact, she stumbled upon her work in the tech industry by accident.
“As I was finishing my doctoral degree in game theory application at NYU, I became bored with the academic world. One of my friends approached me about creating a startup together. As they say the rest is history.”
Tsur’s ability to understand how to create a business has also become one of her greatest assets. Still, she wants to share her enthusiasm by encouraging other women to join the tech industry. Tsur believes the global expansion of technology will open more doors for women to become even more successful. She also believes in the concept of women having it all while working in any industry. She is proof that you can handle a work life balance, as a successful entrepreneur, board member and consultant for other successful startups, while handling the dynamics of family life as a mom. And she manages to do all of this, while splitting her time between New York and Israel.
“Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. Don’t let the boys have all the fun. Men recognize women are essential to success” Tsur mentioned. Today, as she has stated, there are more many more provisions for women who work in the technology industry, such as flexible hours and the option of telecommuting. However, I believe we generally have a long way to go in breaking down socio-cultural and economic barriers that limit women’ s initial entry and subsequent ascent in the industry, relative to their male counterparts. With years of experience under Tsur’s belt and her immense impact, I won’t be surprised by whatever she does next.
And if I could recreate career day as a young girl in the 3rd grade, I would definitely want her as a guest speaker in my classroom.