Yaara is the Manager of the Madrid Hub for Public Sector Territory in South Central Europe and Israel, based in Madrid, Iberia.
HereAtAWS: Tell us about your career journey. What brought you to your current role at AWS?
Yaara: My career journey was kind of unique: After five years in the Israeli Military (reaching the rank of a Captain) I decided I wanted to follow my childhood dream to become a Lawyer (litigator). After five further (long!) years, my childhood dream was accomplished, and from 1999 I was appearing in courts as a Real Estate Litigator. Through my Law School studies I was intrigued and astonished with the development of the internet and the supporting technology. I started to question myself; “Did I choose the right path by following that childhood dream? or should have I switched to a different direction which I am really curious about – technology?”
After two years in litigation, I couldn’t resist following my curiosity, and started looking for a path closer to the IT world, while still using the skills I learned in Business School and Law School.
I leaned on my deep knowledge with the Israeli military, and joined the Israeli Ministry of Defence as a Technology Procurement Manager, and immediately requested to be assigned to the Israeli mission in New York City – to be part of the huge procurement of IT for the military.
There, in 2001, I started my journey with the public sector and technology. A continuous journey that I am still on to this day.
I was stationed in The NY Mission for four years, procuring all technology required for the Israeli Air Force. I returned to Israel, with two little girls and a hunger to learn more about technology and to serve the public sector as an external contributor (as a vendor).
I joined IBM as the Account manager for the Israeli Defence. I was part of IT projects for the Defence Department, and that helped deepen my knowledge of technology. At that time – I had expanded my family with a third child – another girl!
After six meaningful years with IBM, I moved to my next challenge at Oracle as the Account Manager for the Israeli Government. Again, I was proud to serve the public sector and to be engaged in the country’s leading efforts to improve IT.
During my five years at Oracle, AWS started emerging into my consciousness, and I found myself one more time intrigued and curious about new technology - the cloud!
When I connected with an AWS recruiter about a potential role with AWS Public Sector – I didn’t have to think about it. The role combined the two things that were close to my heart: the public sector and innovative technology.
There I was: the very first Public Sector Account Manager for AWS Israel. I couldn’t have been prouder!
For over a year, I engaged with all segments of the Israeli public sector. I met with all levels, from developers to CIO’s, CTO’s and even Government Ministers. I was astonished at how little knowledge people in the public sector had about the cloud, and amazed what a huge contribution AWS can bring to their success.
After two years in this role I received an offer for an internal move: to raise a new team of Public Sector Territory Account Managers in Madrid. In August 2018, I relocated to Madrid with two daughters (my eldest daughter stayed in Israel, having joined the military for her obligatory service).
Building this team in Madrid has been such a rewarding challenge – I have today the most amazing group of people here in Madrid and I continue to enjoy my professional journey every day.
HereAtAWS: Can you explain in simple terms: your role, who your customers are, and how you help them?
Yaara: I am the manager of the Public Sector Territory Account Managers in Madrid. My team is responsible for customers in Iberia, Italy, Benelux, DACH and Israel (a total of 10 countries). We support customers in four main verticals: Government, Education, Healthcare and NPO’s (not-for-profit organizations).
Our mission is to educate the market on the existence, capabilities and benefits of AWS.
We on-board and develop new customers, and nurture existing ones, to help them grow with AWS services that can benefit their business. The goal is to drive adoption of AWS services at scale and grow existing customers’ usage. Increasing innovation for these public sector entities is beneficial for us all as citizens and humans.
HereAtAWS: What technical and/or soft skills do you need to succeed in your role?
Yaara: As a manager I find the soft skills more important than the technical knowledge. In my early years’ career, when I was in professional military service, I learned the soft skills required to be a platoon commander. Becoming a manager at AWS (although a different culture than military culture) made me observe and engage those soft skills again: effective communication (listening being the most important!), creativity, problem solving, integrity, compassion, leadership, flexibility, time management, curiosity and open mindedness – are only a few of the elements!
HereAtAWS: Have you had to learn any specific new skills (technical or soft) for your role?
Yaara: I had to improve my listening skills. I am a very passionate person, having a bias for action is in my blood. But I needed to understand that sometimes there is a need to stop, dive deep and listen more. In the long-term, it is more valuable than acting immediately.
HereAtAWS: How does your work with customers help to make a positive impact on society?
Yaara: Working with public sector entities is making a direct impact on society: from improving Government services to citizens, improving Education technology, supporting research centres to find cures for diseases, contributing to the success of NPO’s in protecting the environment and many more.
HereAtAWS: At work, are you involved in any activities outside of your role?
Yaara: I am a Bar Raiser. I enjoy supporting other teams in Amazon with their recruiting efforts. Through my BR activities I learned a lot about other interesting roles in Amazon and deepened my cultural knowledge. Lately I became a BR mentor and already graduated one BRIT (Bar-Raiser-In-Training) to become a BR as well. I am also participating in Amazon Mentoring as a mentor.
HereAtAWS: What’s the most exciting part of your job?
Yaara: The most exciting part of my role is to coach and mentor people. Building a team from scratch, watching them grow and deliver results is the most rewarding gift for me.
HereAtAWS: What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Yaara: The most challenging part is the international aspect. In my team there are people from diverse cultures, with 10 languages and unique behaviours – my managerial skills need to resonate with them all!
The one thing that unites us all is the Amazon culture and the 14 leadership Principles.
HereAtAWS: What advice would you give people joining AWS?
Yaara: Embrace the Amazon culture! Although we do things in a peculiar way – following the Leadership Principles will never fail you!
HereAtAWS: Do you have any needs or commitment that require flexibility in your role?
Yaara: Being a single mom, in a foreign country, with no family to offer support is a challenging task. My role allows me flexibility when I need to attend to my girls first.
HereAtAWS: What do you love to do outside work?
Yaara: I practice a very unique work life balance: I am a single mom since 2008, raising my three girls alone and at the same time I am a very dedicated triathlete. I participated in Ironman long distance triathlon in Italy in June 2017 and I am currently training for a Spanish Ironman.
The Ironman Triathlon comprise of 3.8 km of swimming, 180 km of biking, and 42.2 km of running – all at one instance. I train six or seven times a week. Almost every day. Mainly early in the mornings.
Being a manager at AWS, single mom and training for triathlons – is a very challenging work-life balance and I am proud to be successful in all three.
HereAtAWS: Is there anything else you would like to add about your personal journey?
Yaara: I have learned that a person can achieve anything they can dream of. All you need to do is open your imagination, set your targets, work hard, be disciplined and you will get there!