Meet the Team: Na’ama Goldberg
Professor and writer Shlomo Maital interviews Waycare’s Project Manager, Na’ama Goldberg, about her position and journey prior to joining Waycare. The two discuss Na’ama’s education in Land Economy and Geography and how that brought her into the worlds of consulting, founding a non-profit organization, and finally joining Waycare. They also speak about her work onboarding Waycare’s new clients, her ongoing studies in philosophy, and Waycare’s recent project to become SOC2 compliant.
Na’ama, many of our Waycare team members have followed a path like the Beatles song- “a long and winding road” to get to Waycare. Your road took you from Cambridge, England — degrees in Land Economy and Geography, to co-founding a non-profit then to Accenture here in Israel, and finally, to Waycare. Tell us about yourself and your long journey.
“You’re absolutely right. I think everyone in the Waycare office has really varied backgrounds. For me specifically, I think from a very young age I was very interested in how communities, and in particular cities, operate and what makes certain cities more successful than others. I think that fascination is what led me to explore subjects related to that in higher education — so things related to urban development, economics, geography and land economy, which really is the study of the urban environment. These were perfect subjects for me to fuel that fascination.
After I started off studying land economy, which I did in my first year, I decided to major in geography. Geography really gave me the opportunity to explore the economic development of cities, questions around citizenship, and things related to that. It was a very case-study-based degree, which I think was for me also a great segway into the world of consulting — because consulting is very project-based and you tend to jump between industries and different types of clients and get exposed to very different information and skill sets. This is the background I got in geography when I was studying at Cambridge.
So that’s kind of what led me into the world of consulting, which I have to say was really the most fantastic start to my career and gave me such a fantastic toolkit in learning how to manage projects and understand customers and their needs.
And mostly aso, Accenture really opened me up to the world of IT implementations, which I was unfamiliar with before. So that’s where I started off there. Then after a while, about three and a half years in the world of consulting, I decided I wanted to go back to my roots a little bit and develop my passion for urban development. So that’s what made me switch out of that world. I started working in one of the municipalities in the south of Israel with a woman who founded a Smart Mobility organization there. I was very fortunate to really be exposed to how public-private partnerships were being built through municipalities.
After a while there with a really fascinating experience – it was my introduction into the world of smart mobility. I feel like I’ve never really looked back since. After that intro and a few months working with her, she invited me to help set up that lab nationally as an NGO. That’s where I entered that journey with her; we were working together for a year. I was extremely fortunate to learn from some of the most intelligent and passionate people I’ve come across so that was a great experience.
But, of course, starting up an organization from scratch has its many challenges and is certainly not for the faint-hearted. It was a fantastic experience but I think with time I was looking also to get exposed to a diversity of more global clients and work somewhere that was a little bit more established — where I could also help build new processes but there was some sort of infrastructure set up – and that was really my next step into coming into Waycare. Just from the little I met from the people at Waycare, I was so impressed by their professionalism and just their positive attitude and willingness to speak and share. That’s really what drew me in. After a few interviews, it was just clear to me that this is the place I would want to work. So that’s how I got to Waycare.
The last thing I’ll say is that I just love the fact that Waycare combines this pace of working in the private sector but allows me such great access to the public sector and understanding how organizations in that industry function and operate and think. It has been fascinating to have the balance of both of those worlds.“
So that really was a long and winding road! But it sounds to me like you’ve reached your destination.
So, you’re a Waycare Project Manager. I understand that you lead onboarding of new customers. We live in a time of social distancing and work-from-home. So my question is – how in the world do you onboard new customers when you can’t even meet them face to face?
“That’s a great question. I think the thing that’s become most clear to me, especially during the COVID era, is the importance of having a clear process set up at the beginning. This is useful, not only for our employees to understand what steps are expected at each part of the way, but also, especially in today’s age of uncertainty, to help clients feel comfortable in knowing what is coming next and what they should be looking forward to.
So I think laying things out in advance and making sure that clients know what is expected of us and what is expected of them, is really critical to onboarding new customers, especially at a time where you can’t really see them face-to-face as much. And apart from that, there’s also the human element. I always try and combine additional calls and discussions with clients aside from the formal project meetings that we have, picking up the phone and making sure they feel comfortable with everything that’s going on and making sure that they understand the new technology and everything that comes together with it. So there’s definitely a social aspect to it as well.”
Na’ama, despite your demanding work at Waycare, you study philosophy once a week, and you told me that for you, philosophy is a different way of seeing, experiencing, and accessing the world. And, of course, Cambridge University, your alma mater, is the home of great philosophers — Bertrand Russell, for example. So, Na’ama, how does philosophy impact onboarding?
“It’s a very, very good question. I think the relationship between philosophy and the onboarding process that we have is this — we have this idea of always trying to balance between the theoretical and the practical. So we have a uniform process in place and a theory of how we would like to do things, but at the end of the day the practical questions of how this relates to that specific customer and the topics that come up with them, is really how I see this intersection when it comes to the workplace. So just making sure that we’re asking the right questions and knowing what answers are relevant to which customers, but at the same time always keeping the bigger vision of Waycare in the back of our minds.”
So, that really is a skill you get from philosophy — knowing what questions to ask.
“Absolutely. It sounds so easy, but it’s actually extremely difficult. It’s one of our challenges along the way and we hope to be continuously improving that. So we learn from specific onboardings with customers that for the next time these are the questions that we should also be asking.“
You have another project that you lead, which sounds to me equally challenging: making Waycare SOC 2 compliant. SOC 2 is a data privacy standard for managing customer data. It’s run by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Na’ama, why is it so crucial for Waycare to be SOC 2 compliant?
“It’s extremely important for Waycare, I think today – especially as a cloud-based platform -where sometimes clients are faced with a technology that perhaps is unfamiliar to them. A lot of our customers work with legacy platform providers who install hardware or have on-premise solutions. So, coming as a cloud provider can seem a little bit different to a lot of the organizations we operate with. Having that additional stamp of being SOC 2 compliant and having those security processes in place really demonstrates to our customers that we take their data extremely seriously and we make sure that their privacy and security is the top concern for us before anything else.
Alongside all the feedbacks and requirements about improving the platform, at the end of the day, the most important thing is making sure that their data is safe. Especially when it comes to transport-related data when you can have exposure to things going out on the road and citizens. I think there is a great sense of relief for our customers to know that we’re taking the precautions, not just at a certain point of time but continuously, and are getting audited from year-to-year. They have that safety knowing that we have those processes in place and are always working on improving them.”
Na’ama, I wish you great success. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us.
January 12, 2021
Meet the Team: Paul-Matthew ZamskyRead Article
October 20, 2020
Meet the Team: Ayala RosenbaumRead Article
March 11, 2020
People Profiles: Michal RosenthalRead Article
February 28, 2020
People Profiles: Yaniv CosticaRead Article
January 16, 2020