A year ago, in November 2021, I took a bold decision to leave my role at Microsoft and join team lakeFS as VP Marketing. Upon joining I wrote an article on why I decided to join. But just before publishing the piece, I had a change of heart; it didn’t feel right to me. It felt strange to give advice on bold career moves based on first impressions. I left the post in my drawer, and decided to write it again, after spending a whole year with my new team. Now, I feel that I can share an authentic insight.
My name is Michal Wosk, I am 42, and I live in Israel with my family.
My whole life was surrounded by technology. I was one of the first to have a Windows PC in my hometown (Netanya, Israel) and a connection to what was then considered high-speed internet (4K ADSL). My dad, who was a physician, was so intrigued by technology, even though he had very little understanding of it. Although we were not rich and lived a very modest lifestyle, my father was willing to invest any amount of money for me to have the most cutting edge technology.
After an army service in one of the famous army units that raise many tech entrepreneurs in Israel, and meeting my husband – a tech entrepreneur himself, I decided to study computer science and linguistics in university. A combination of exact sciences and humanities, earth and wind, just how I would describe myself.
My life at Microsoft
I consider myself a Microsoft golden girl. When people described themselves as Macs or PCs, I was a clear PC. My first job after school was a .NET developer, back when .NET was first released (it wasn’t even called 1.0 then). I then joined Microsoft R&D to learn how products should be built for scale, and when I needed a change I was a consultant that helped other companies build their products better on top of the Microsoft technology stack. After a break of 6 years (in a startup and at Intel) – I came back to Microsoft as a marketing manager for Azure for the developers audience. I got to love what I do, and enjoyed my role very much. I made valuable connections and friendships, and was lucky enough to be awarded for my activities.
Then I met Einat & Oz
I am obsessed with podcasts, I listen to at least one podcast a day. I enjoy learning from other people’s experiences and embrace new ideas in this very engaging yet very casual medium. A friend of mine from Microsoft recommended I listen to a piece with Einat Orr that they had moderated.
I was utterly inspired. I heard the voice of a woman that I felt was talking directly to me. I was even a bit envious of her, for the comprehensiveness of her vision and her confidence of what she is about to achieve. I felt that I needed to meet her. I’m a big believer in Karma – and sure enough my friend the moderator finished the interview with Einat with a clear feeling that she needs to connect me to Einat ASAP. The connection was soon made, and I met Einat and her co-founder – Oz Katz, very shortly afterwards.
This is the moment in my life that should be all about what is right for me
I believe that the 40’s are the best age so far. In my 20s I was very busy finding out who I am and who is that woman that I want to become. I spent my 30s very busy with building a career and a family, but mainly – becoming the woman I wanted to be. I am in my 40’s – and now I feel that it is time to focus on me. On my personal happiness and on my personal goals. When I met Einat and Oz I felt that I was not living the life that I wanted and the change they offered me was one that I felt was needed and was the right one for me.
What are the things that are really important in life?
What was I missing and how did what Einat have to offer seem to be filling the gap? I made a short list of things that became what I feel on a daily basis. All of these values are important for life itself, but I applied them here to my work at lakeFS.
1st Value – Work on a valuable mission
How do I know that I am working on something with great value to the world?
- Infrastructure – It has to be an infrastructure product, which for me means that it has to serve a massive audience of users, and help them perform a fundamental yet very important set of tasks. Infrastructure is hard to build and sell, but the potential impact of it on the target audience, when executed correctly, is huge.
- Subject matter – Something of great value has to disrupt an area that is expected to grow and scale massively – the world of data is one such area, as it is the foundation of every innovation driven company in the world: from self-driving cars to healthcare solutions, from financial services to clean energy solutions – data is becoming the most important asset of these companies.
- Disruption – A valuable product offers a different approach to a known challenge: When I first met Oz and deep dived into the technology he was building I understood that he applied a great concept that works in other domains – into the problem he aimed to solve. By that he created a conceptual solution to a large set of problems. I was mind blown by how simple and how innovative his approach to this problem was.
2nd Value – Cherish a culture that you can be proud to be part of
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” – Peter Drucker.
I’ve learned to appreciate the value of culture, as it sets the basis for the actions and behaviors you will meet. The culture of Treeverse is based on the following values:
- Your voice matters – no matter what your role is and where you are located in the org tree or even within the company itself. As an open-source company, this value has to be actively manifested, as we are building a product with and for the community. The voice of the users, the contributors, and the savvys is so valuable and so important.
- We are data driven – As former data people, building a solution for data people, we are basing all of our decisions on data. We ask ourselves all the time – how will we measure – everything. This doesn’t mean that we will not follow our intuitions and instincts. However we will make sure that we are able to track and see the impact of our decisions, even the most intuitive ones, on the results and make sure we act accordingly.
- Embrace challenges and reward learning – building a disruptive infrastructure solution for the world of data, is not an easy challenge. It requires lots of effort and constant learning, sometimes deep within the landscapes of the unknown. At lakeFS, I feel okay to be open and say whenever there is something that I don’t know, I don’t understand (yet) or haven’t experienced before. Being constantly busy in hiding and building masks is such a waste of energy. When instead you invest your energy in investigating, questioning and understanding you are not only completing a task, but you also gained a new valuable skill that will serve you in the future.
- Stay real, humble and curious – although the lakeFS team is built out of people who built unicorns, wrote books, have PhD degrees and are considered domain experts in their fields – the general vibe in the company is curious, humble and very down to earth. We raised a lot of money, because we have a great vision and the ability to execute upon it. We are not being confused with the hype and we make sure we keep on being modest, humble but mostly – thankful for this opportunity that we got to make a change.
- Surround yourself with people who are different from you – I am very different within the lakeFS landscape. I am loud and I speak a lot. I tend to share my mental notes within the dry details. I am very open and you see exactly what I feel (even when I am really trying to hide it). The beauty in this team is that the values that make each of us unique are appreciated and embraced. Creating a disruptive innovative solution requires an open mind from top to bottom, and in lakeFS we understand it and actively apply it.
3rd Value – Choose your mentors, and keep them close
When I just started my role I was asked by Einat to select a mentor, and I was offered to connect with one of our advisors – a renowned marketing executive with huge ecosystem knowledge and vast experience. When your leader steps out and asks you to intentionally rely on the advice of a mentor, what they actually say is: I am invested in your success, and I am willing to provide you with what you need for it. At that moment I felt very loved, and very taken care of. The result is that I have a wise ally that I can lean on, that will help me succeed in my journey, in the most doubtful junctions: Call them Yoda, call them Gandalf, I call mine – Peter.
There are many things about lakeFS and my role there that I learned and love. I will not paint a pink picture – there are many things that I find challenging (and I may even dedicate a full blog post about them, spoiler – I need to market stuff to an audience that despises marketing people). But mainly – there is still so much for me to learn, so much space to grow and so much to achieve. The opportunity is big, and so is the responsibility on my shoulders. I am curious to see where this journey leads and who I will become as a professional – and as a person – when I get there. Stay tuned.