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CXBuzz Interview With Tamir Huberman CIO and Head of Marketing of Yeda the commercial arm of the Weizmann Institute of Science

Hi Tamir, tell us about yourself and your background?

I have always loved innovation and inventions. Since my childhood, I used a lot of my time in inventing new electronic gadgets and fixing broken electronic equipment. After finishing a diploma in Computers and Electronics I decided to learn Biology and later did my master’s studies in Structural Biology and Computer Science. In the early companies, I worked for I was exposed to the world of patents, following the process of submitting a couple of new patents.

My passion for innovation finally led me to the most innovative type of company on the planet, called TTOs or Technology Transfer Offices. Most of the Universities and research institutes in the world have their own TTO. TTOs are responsible for first spotting promising inventions and transferring them to existing companies or establish new startup companies based on those inventions.

I was lucky to work closely with amazing researchers such as Prof Amnon Shashua which was the founder of MobilEye and OrCam and Prof Shmuel Peleg, founder of BriefCam.

Realizing the potential of Social Media and LinkedIn I have harnessed the amazing power of the platform to ignite exciting collaborations. In addition, I created several leading platforms for handling innovation which are the leading IT platforms in Israel.

I believe that innovation and imagination are the most exciting fields and forces and am lucky to work in this domain daily.

You are the CIO and Head of Marketing of Yeda, the commercial arm of the Weizmann Institute of Science. Can you tell us a little bit about how basic academic research meets the commercial space?

Basic Research is a concept that does not really exist in a lot of places any longer simply since researchers need money to do their research and money can be found for fields that have an impact on society. In most cases, those fields are not pure “basic research”. The Weizmann Institute is one of the rare research organizations that have the privilege to conduct basic science and gives absolute freedom for the researchers to choose what they want to research. In some fields of research such as Computer Science, Biology, and Chemistry the researchers work on real-life problems. When interesting problems are solved the TTO can license those solutions for the benefit of society. It is the role of the TTO to find research that has market potential and transform the research results to patents and know-how that can later be licensed to existing companies or serve as the basis for new startups.

Tamir’s checklist for product-market fit

In your POV – What is the ultimate checklist for establishing product-market fit?

The ultimate checklist greatly varies between product types so I will just include a couple of very top-level items from the checklist which often repeat in multiple product types. I believe those are rather self-explanatory hence I did not add details on the topics themselves.

Unique Selling Proposition
Primary Target Audience –
Soft Launch – When possible
Media Strategy – PR, Social Media, Direct Campaigns, etc’
Social Feedback – Design feedback loops to make sure the Media Strategy is working
Define Clear Goals – Including main paths tools to reach those goals
Timing – It’s all about the timing…
Future Follow Up

How much has the role of the CIO in the social distancing era – what role digital transformation has in this crisis?

The role of the CIO plays a major strategic role in companies with an even increased importance in the Social Distancing and Remote working era. A lot of companies that did not manage to transform all their major activities to the Digital Space found themselves in a severe situation. On the other hand, companies that have transformed to the digital were able to not only stay alive in the current crisis but in some industries even increase sales and grow.

What was the biggest lesson you learned in 2020?

The biggest lesson learned in 2020 is Flexibility and Fast Learning. Flexibility, since in a world that literally changed overnight if you are not flexible you can simply break. As for fast learning, it is not enough to be flexible without learning. In a world that is constantly changing, we must learn and adapt to new circumstances fast and spot new potentials. I love the quote of Eric Hoffer: “In times of change the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists”

2020 was the year of webinars and online events, what was your favorite one?

My favorite one was ” Realign Your 2020 Digital Strategy” by Chris Wolz, CEO, and President, Forum One

It looks like working from home is going to stay with us for the foreseeable future, how should Executives gear up to the changing times?

I was always a believer that managers need employees that can get work done. This means that if the work is done and milestones are met, it does not matter if an employee achieves those milestones remotely or not. In addition, arriving physically to the workplace means in a lot of cases that people stand in traffic a lot of time. Remote work can save that time and increase the yield. I believe that the new equilibrium should be 2-3 working days remotely and 1-2 working from the office. The challenge for executives is to find efficient ways to know what their employees are doing and to make sure things are not stuck.

Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?

My favorite metric is Customer Retention. Having a customer come back for a second purchase of a product or service can teach a lot about the offering and relevance. Strong customer experience can often entice customers to return, which lowers overall costs and creates a strong income group of return customers.

About the author

Alon is a Tel Aviv-based CMO a VC Consultant and the General Manager of CXBuzz. As a veteran in the Israeli Start-Up scene, Alon supports b2b tech startups in capturing customers' sentiment and embedding customer experience in the decision making process.


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