ExecConnect Speaker Spotlight: Nurit Kruk-Zilca, Ceragon

We’re very excited to welcome Nurit Kruk-Zilca, Executive Vice President of Human Resources at Ceragon Networks, as a featured panelist at ExecConnect 2018!

Tell us a little about yourself.

In my 18+ years of experience I’ve had the privilege of leading one of the most talented HR teams for a company that continues to redefine and transform what great HR looks like. In my work I have managed to lead such things as Creating Shared Vision, Talent Management & Development, Talent Strategy, Workforce Planning, Leadership Development, Change Management, Coaching, Org Design, M&A, and Building high performing teams.

In my current position of Executive Vice President of Human Resources at Ceragon Networks, a leading global technology company specializing in wireless backhaul, I work with Exec leadership and senior management as a trusted advisor, developing talent strategies that align with a business scaling at a massive pace. Headquartered in Israel, Ceragon operates in more than 130 countries and has approximately 1,200 employees located in more than 40 offices across the globe.

While I’ve held my current position at Ceragon Networks since 2014, I have been at the company serving at various HR positions since 2005. Prior to Ceragon I was responsible for Talent acquisition and sourcing for Intel Israel. I hold B.A. in Leadership & Education as well as an M.A. in Organizational Sociology from the Tel Aviv University in Israel.

I am extremely fortunate to have had many truly amazing experiences working across the globe and in multiple functions within HR with incredible colleagues who are passionate about solving important business challenges. My motto is to always look above & beyond, dare to dream, seek to find the next challenge and opportunities and use my curiosity to learn more and more. I practice this motto and apply it to my work every single day.

How does your role contribute to your organization?

4 years ago, when I just stepped into the EVP role, the company faced a challenging time. The global telecom market conditions hardened due to a slowdown in 4G market adoption, which in turn meant the company struggled financially. From an HR perspective, the company was facing its highest ever employee attrition rate of key employees, and as you can imagine incredibly low motivation in the corridors.  I understood that the ‘ship’ had to be turned around fast and believed that HR could contribute significantly to this change.

Typically, management expects HR organizations to serve a supporting function… rather than a vital leadership function. But I believe differently.  By taking an active part in management and being involved in strategic discussions I had a crisp understanding of where the company is going and its challenges ahead – I was well positioned to work with team to define an appropriate HR strategy to lead the needed change.

The challenges facing HR were significant and many; the company’s organizational structure comprised more than 1,000 employees spread across 40 countries – different languages, different work cultures, and different time zones. What’s more, we were facing extremely low internal and external employer branding. In response, the HR department took the position of business partner and started to proactively lead a change.

Armed with courage, flexibility, experience AND knowledge, we went on to build and establish a tight relationship with management to implement our mission PEOPLE STRATEGY.

As a starting point for change we convinced management to focus on Ceragon’s human capital and identify the critical management layer that have the highest impact bottom up and top down – our Top Management Layer. This layer consisted of about 45 managers, reporting to E level and having great influence in Ceragon. Our mission was to make them true stakeholders in the success of the company.

Where many organizations turn to consultants when faced with a crisis, we at Ceragon called upon the people who know the company best: ITS EMPLOYEES.

Employees were asked to make the company theirs, so it could be strong again. There is great power in Connecting Employees to the Company Strategy – and in my professional opinion, this is HR’s most imperative role.

We went on to establish platforms that connected personal and professional development, as well as the company’s goals, by focusing on 3 areas:

Empowerment & Development | Employer Brand | Pay for Performance Strategy

In my professional experience I’ve learnt it is best to work with the people using 4 approaches:

  1. Listen: hear them, let them be involved and let them be influential
  2. “Always on learning”: provide them leadership development tools, such as coaching skills and strategic thinking, through platforms like ExecOnline. Our partnership with ExecOnline enabled our executives to earn high quality learning and a diploma from the best Universities in the US. We connected the studies with the company’s key projects and created a platform that leveraged employee development to help resolve organizational challenges.
  3. Lead: give them the opportunity to take responsibility on cross-organizational processes by leading collaboration teams – At Ceragon we call these ‘1X Teams’ – that help improve business and operational processes.
  4. Dare: encourage them to bring new ideas and implement needed changes

I believe that our work over the past few years has proven that HR can make a difference in fostering a positive company culture and making employees true stakeholders in the success of the company – our business results demonstrate this success as we returned to profitability.

Ceragon now has a stronger brand to show prospective employees. Our current employees have a direct say in operations – the word is out that Ceragon is a great place to work! As a result of our branding efforts, we succeed to increase our Referral Program by 14%, doubled our re-hire cases and our recruitment costs have been significantly reduced.

Through hard work and collaboration, HR managed to define and lead initiatives that had a visible positive influence on company processes, culture and ultimately contributed directly to the company’s  bottom line.

What inspired you to follow this career path?

In my career I have had the great fortune of having some great managers and informal mentors who recognized my potential and abilities, and continuously challenged me to go further. My ambition and courage to continuously develop professionally and climb the ‘corporate ladder’ was always encouraged by their support, and I credit them for broadening my experience in Human Resources.

What inspired me to follow this career path is truly the work itself. I get to spend the clear majority of my time supporting the professional development and ambitions of others. I actually get paid to do the work that I love because fortunately helping people ‘grow’ aligns rather perfectly with helping the businesses grow.

How is the L&D space changing?

In these days of great complexity, dynamic environments and rapid technology changes, I believe a high degree of organizational agility can truly help companies react successfully to the emergence of new competitors, the development of new industry-changing technologies, or sudden shifts in overall market conditions.

In this VUCA world, where each day brings about new challenges, we must adjust our learning methods accordingly. Organizations that are global and multicultural cannot offer a ‘one-size-fits-all’ generic solution. The emphasis is on individual development and as such we must be flexible enough to enable e-learning and self-learning platforms – and ExecOnline is a good example of such a solution.

I believe in fostering an “always on” learning approach, which means that any situation could be a platform for learning and development – and managers have a significant role in their employees’ learning experience.

Where can we find you when you’re not working?

When I am not working I like to spend time with my family – my husband, our 3 kids and sweet Goldendoodle dog. I am extremely active in a variety of sports, including running, yoga, spinning and whatever else makes me sweat.  About 6 months ago I relocated, with my family, from Israel to Dallas Texas, and we are really enjoying this great and exciting opportunity to learn and experience a new culture.

What are you looking forward to most at ExecConnect 2018?

I look forward to networking with other professionals and stay up to date on the latest HR trends and research. I am excited for the opportunity to share of my personal knowledge and experience in the Evaluating the ROI of L&D Panel, and in turn learn from the experiences of my fellow colleagues.  What’s more, after a 4-year fruitful partnership with ExeOnline, I look forward to finally meeting my partners face to face.

Hear from Nurit and other HR professionals at ExecConnect 2018,
Oct 2-3 in New York City. Tickets are selling out fast, so register now!

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