Omri Hurwitz
Omri Hurwitz
Tech Marketer & Media Strategist

Tech Leaders: Ilit Raz, Founder and CEO, Joonko

Ilit Raz Photo:Joonko

Welcome to my Tech Leaders Interview Series, where I interview impactful leaders and ask them to share tips and techniques that have benefited them, both in their personal and professional lives. 

This interview is with Ilit Raz, Founder and CEO of diversity recruiting software company Joonko

With offices in Tel Aviv, Alabama, and now New York City, Joonko helps enterprise recruiters to find qualified talent and achieve their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) goals.

Ilit worked at several leading tech companies before founding Joonko in 2016. Ilit remains active as a mentor to other tech founders through her work with Techstars, Product League, and XX+UX, a community of women in user experience design.

What are your main productivity tips?

I do things a bit differently than other people, and it works for me.

I have one central place to manage my entire to-do list, and it includes both personal and professional items. I find it easier this way as I don’t make any trade-offs accidentally. I prioritize my list on a daily basis to make sure I’m focusing on what matters in the here and now.

My secret productivity tip: I use my email inbox as a central hub, as most of my tasks come via email anyway. For my personal tasks, I just sent myself an email as a reminder. For example, if I need to call the bank, then I’ll send an email to myself with that in the subject line. Then whenever I check my emails, it’s there and I can’t miss it. When employees ask me questions, and I don’t have an immediate answer, I ask them to send me an email about it and revisit it later. 

I know many people hate emails, but we often can’t escape them. My thinking is to make the system work for me rather than try and fail to avoid it.

What is your favorite drink?

That’s easy! It’s got to be a cold brew coffee without milk.

How do you deal with stress and anxiety?

I love this question. Stress and anxiety are common in the tech world, and there’s no point in denying it. I believe so strongly in Joonko’s mission to help underrepresented talent that it’s easy for me to overwork myself in pursuit. 

Having said that, I also believe in taking off-the-grid time without access to ongoing emails and meetings, and I find that getting out of Tel Aviv to take trips abroad really helps me. It puts me in a different physical space, which helps me get into a different mental space. My go-to stress reliever is spending quick weekends in London. There’s something about the city and its diversity that I just love.

Your tips for aspiring entrepreneurs?

I have so many…. You should always start by sharing your ideas with as many people as possible. You need to build the confidence to explain your mission and get real-world feedback on it. 

You also need to find two or three people from your industry whom you can trust and who are slightly further along the path than you are. They can be better than people much further ahead because they still remember the pain of the beginning and can offer the right support at the right time.

Don’t be afraid to collaborate! If you truly believe in your mission, work with other interested parties to take on the challenge together. I believe tech can be a force for good when we’re on the same page.

Who in the tech industry would you like to meet for lunch?

There are so many people doing incredible things out there, but if I had to choose one, it would be Adam Singolda of Taboola. I’d love to hear his business advice, but it would mostly be for Lego tips.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

As I said, I love London and would happily live there someday in the future.

What is your favorite book recommendation?

The Design of Everyday Things by the brilliant Donald Norman. 

It’s been around for a while, but the ideas are timeless, and all founders should have a deep understanding of affordances. It’s amazing how much we can take for granted, but by returning to the basics we can all create better products that allow us to better serve the people we are trying to help. It’s a book I constantly go back to and uncover new wisdom every time. 

Why are you in tech?

If I were to be honest, it’s all because of my mom. 

In high school, I was only really good at math but didn’t have any real interest in the tech industry. My mom pushed me to take computer science, and I’m so glad she did. I found I enjoyed coding much more than I expected, and slowly I shifted my focus toward the tech industry.

But I’m really here because I think that the workforce needs a shakeup and change, as it has overseen high-quality talent for too long. I’m proud to be a woman in tech, and I would like to encourage more women to join me. Studies have repeatedly shown more diverse workforces are more creative and innovative. Tech, unfortunately, lags behind many other industries in this sense. 

I want to help companies become more inclusive and create that sense of belonging. The idea that I could be one part of the puzzle to help bring that change is all the motivation I need. 

About Joonko

Joonko is improving workplaces across the United States by providing recruitment teams with qualified talent from diverse backgrounds. Powered by our homegrown Artificial Intelligence, Joonko is recreating talent pipelines, disrupting recruiting norms, and eliminating bias in real-time.

Thanks for reading the article. Feel free to check out my website, and contact me Via email, LinkedIn, or Twitter. Check out my new column for New York Tech.  Also, subscribe to my newsletter Entrepreneurs Studio

About the Author
Omri Hurwitz is a Tech Marketer and Media Strategist. His client portfolio consists of some of the leading companies and start-ups in Tech. He writes for several media channels including Forbes, The Times Of Israel, New York Tech, Newsbreak, The VentureCation, Hackernoon, Benzinga, and more. He also has a show where he interviews leading personas from a variety of industries, to talk about the mental and mindful side of his guests and how it helps them in their personal & professional lives.
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