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UVeye’s Driving Force Spotlight: Annat Himmel, R&D Director

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Tell us about yourself and your background.

Hi,   My name is Annat.
I’m the proud mother of three children, two boys, and a little girl unicorn.
We live in Beit Hashmonay, a small town not too far from Tel Aviv. 

I started off in the high-tech industry about 20 years ago and have spent 11 years in management. Like many Israelis, I began working in the field after my military service, and as a student, I did some quality assurance work while studying software engineering. My next step was in an SW development position. Then I moved ahead to become a team leader, group leader, SW director, and finally, R&D Director.

What made you choose UVeye as your next home?

It was a combination of several things. My prior experience was primarily in corporations, and I was ready for a change in scenery, so I began looking for a start-up company that was more agile and tech-oriented. I was lucky to come across UVeye and was immediately drawn to what it does. I was ready for a new challenge that was super interesting for me. I loved the managerial and technical challenge, but what really did it for me was the people I met during the recruiting process. I instantly knew that this is a company that looks at people, sees them for who they really are, and allows them to grow.

What is the most satisfying part of your role, and what parts are less satisfying?

The most satisfying part for me is when I get to see my employee grow and conquer a new challenge. It can be seeing someone successfully implementing some new technology or moving up the managerial ladder. It’s feeling and knowing I made an impact on someone’s career (for the better).

The less satisfying parts are when I fail to deliver something on time or when there are a lot of bugs in production. I know this is a natural part of any job or place of work, but I have become so invested in the company that I just want it to do well.

How did you experience UVeye's move to working from home due to COVID-19? As a mother, what were the main challenges?

I’m sure this will not come as a surprise. My main challenge was working remotely as a mother. My husband was defined as an essential worker, so I had to work and attend all my meetings while simultaneously offering real-time technical support for three school-age children learning in Zoom from home (including a first grader who doesn’t know how to read at all and really needs technical and emotional support.

I’m seriously considering adding “Zoom technician” to my resume at some point, and I think all working mothers deserve a special shoutout!

How is managing a group remotely different from the way it was before COVID-19?

Since I’m a manager, my work mostly consists of orchestrating everything. Switching my “workplace” to home meant I could not drop in on a developer to check on the progress of different projects and have a small talk regarding work, so I needed to have a lot more meetings. After a few weeks of working this way, my son came to me and told me: “Now I understand what your job is all about. It’s about talking all the time.”

It is also more complicated to manage and mentor other managers. It is more difficult for me to see their challenges because I don’t get to see the interaction they have with their teammates as I could when we all were in the same office. This requires me to rely more on communication with them than I did before since I can’t see things directly and in real-time.

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How do you overcome the challenges of remotely onboarding new employees during COVID-19?

It wasn’t easy. With the first employees we hired during the COVID pandemic, we made mistakes. We treated it like a normal onboarding process, and it didn’t work. Luckily we were able to fix it, and we learned from it. Now every new member of my group has an orientation plan. This plan focuses on two main aspects:

The first is the professional aspect — making sure each new member has meetings set up to help him/her understand the content of the work, and the other is the personal aspect — I want to make sure each new employee gets to hold one-on-one meetings with all the people in our division he might see in meetings so he will feel totally comfortable. Basically, this replaces the previous routine of going around the office and telling everyone, “Have you met …? He is our new …”

I believe that, especially when people are working remotely, it is super important for me to make sure they truly feel like a part of UVeye, and that they build social connections.

What are the main strengths of your group?

Their professionalism dedication. This is an extremely talented group of people, and they are really passionate about their work.

What accomplishments make you the proudest of UVeye?

There are a lot of accomplishments I’m afraid I cannot talk about, but from what I can, I think that our 3D modeling for a car’s undercarriage and our unique technology to create a “fingerprint” for each car to detect fraud are at the top. They both combine innovative thinking both in the algorithm itself and in the intuitive user experience.

Come & work with us!
UVeye is on the cutting edge of deep learning & computer vision in the automotive space and we want you to join us on the road ahead

As women are in the minority in managerial positions in the tech industry, what would you advise to women wanting to move up the managerial ladder?

My first piece of advice would be, “Don’t hesitate to dare.” If you want something, ask for it. Don’t wait for it to be offered to you because someone might not know you are interested.
Other advice would be to ignore thoughts that tell you that you are not good enough. You are good enough, probably just as good as any other guy around you. Keep reminding yourself that every day.

What was your favorite spot in the office before COVID-19?

My absolute favorite spot is the kitchenette. Not just because I like the coffee (and I do!) but because that spot is the center of all things. You get to see people you need to discuss issues with, and you can resolve them with a five-minute talk instead of a 30-minute meeting. You also get updated on everything that is going on in other divisions and synchronize all the shared resources. 10 minutes in the kitchenette can save you from one or two hours of meetings. And of course, there are all these tasty chocolate and cookies there…

What do your employees not know about you?

I am a very open person, and there are very few things they do not know about me. I think maybe the most surprising thing would be that I love to sew. I sew costumes and clothes for my kids, and of course, I sewed them all funny masks for COVID protection.

Oh, and I’m also a shopaholic…