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Women in Tech: A Conversation with Mor Kenigsbuch, Sr Product Manager

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In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re excited to spotlight remarkable women making waves in the tech industry. We had the privilege of sitting down with Mor Kenigsbuch, Ph.D., a Senior Product Manager at Nucleai, to delve into her journey, experiences, and insights within the tech sector and at Nucleai. From childhood curiosity to experience in the Army, she’s been fascinated by technology her whole life. Keep reading to uncover her perspective on gender perceptions, the challenges and triumphs of product management, and the future of tech innovation. 

What sparked your interest in the tech industry, and how did you begin your career in this field?

My interest in technology began in my childhood, during the early days of the internet and computers. These new developments fascinated me, sparking a lifelong passion.

This passion turned into a career direction in the Army, where I served in a tech-focused unit. There, I took on a role in product management, collaborating with developers to create new systems. This experience was crucial in realizing my enjoyment and interest in the tech industry. It taught me about the significant impact technology can have across various fields. Fast-forward to today, I am grateful for a career that combines my two passions: science and technology.

In your journey through the tech industry, how have perceptions of gender influenced your experiences and opportunities?

During my career in technology, science, and academia, I’ve often been asked about the impact of gender on my experiences. My perspective might differ from that of many other women, but personally, I’ve never felt treated differently or perceived in a lesser light because of my gender.

There was a significant figure in my life, my commander in the Army, who played a crucial role in shaping my outlook. She instilled in me the belief that being a woman is a strength, particularly in male-dominated fields like the military and tech industry. She taught me to recognize the unique qualities and strengths women bring to the table, emphasizing that my gender should be seen as a source of empowerment and not a disadvantage. She encouraged me to focus on my strengths.

While I understand my experiences may not reflect those of all women, gender has never been a hindrance for me. I’ve always strived to see it as an empowering aspect of my identity, enabling me to contribute uniquely and effectively in my professional environment.

Can you describe your role as a Senior Product Manager at Nucleai?

As a Senior Product Manager at Nucleai, my role is multifaceted and centers around guiding product development strategically to meet market needs and customer challenges. This involves collaborating with various teams to define the product’s direction and ensuring our efforts align with our objective of advancing cancer therapies. My primary responsibility is to translate customer feedback and requirements into actionable plans that lead to the development of solutions so Pharma companies can use them to accelerate their drug development.

An essential aspect of my job is understanding the market and setting a clear strategy for what we need to do, how to do it, and the timing for our actions. This detailed planning is critical in building a product that effectively addresses the needs we aim to meet.

Communication is an essential part of the product manager’s role. We need to bring all the stakeholders—business, management, tech, and project management—together to communicate and ensure everyone is in sync. We collaborate as a team, united by a clear purpose: our dedication to improving patients’ lives.  It’s also about why we do what we do.

What is that “why” for you? 

We are trying to tackle a very, very difficult challenge. That challenge is developing better therapies for cancer patients and ensuring that patients get the most suitable treatment that will benefit them the most. It’s a extremely challenging task because cancer is a very tricky disease. It’s very heterogeneous. And it’s not really one disease. It’s essential to characterize each patient in detail and understand what it is about them that would make them respond to a specific type of therapy or drug. 

At Nucleai, we want to help cancer patients get the best treatment so they can combat the disease in the most efficient way. This means prolonging their life and improving their quality of life during the battle against the disease. We’re specifically trying to tackle the challenge of identifying clues or markers within patient biopsies that would point us toward the best therapy for the patient or the likelihood of a patient responding to a specific treatment. 

Everything we do is about analyzing those biopsies, getting as much information as possible, and trying to understand the significance of this information to the patient’s response to different drugs.

How have you grown professionally with the company, and what experiences influenced your development at Nucleai?

Nucleai is my first industry position since I graduated with my Ph.D. I worked as a student in another startup company during my studies, but this is the first full-time position in the industry. I’ve learned which skills are more important and most valued when you work in an industry environment compared to academia. It’s a very different set of skills. 

It has developed my ability to work with many people in a multidisciplinary team, unlike academia, which is very solitary work. You only get to work with a few other people with different specialties. 

I’m also able to look at things from a very high level rather than zooming in on a very specific thing. In academia, you’re very focused on a specific protein, a specific cell type, or a specific process. Product management develops your ability to look at things from an end-to-end level and understand how the different parts of the company are all involved, identifying where the bottlenecks are, where the difficulties are, and what are the difficult points that require some work. 

I’ve also learned to communicate messages to people with different motivations, interests, and backgrounds. You need to bring them together on the same page by approaching each person in their language, understanding their difficulties or reservations and how to solve them.

In your experience at Nucleai, what practices or values have you observed that contribute to supporting and promoting women’s growth and success in the tech sector?

In my experience at Nucleai, I’ve noticed that our company stands out for its significant representation of women, with about 50% of our positions filled by women, which is quite remarkable when compared to other companies in the tech sector. 

However, I think that all of the tech sector—not just Nucleai—suffers from a lack of women in senior leadership roles. I believe this stems from two different reasons. One is that women are not encouraged to take part in such roles from a very young age. Women often think they shouldn’t push for that, or they’re not suitable for it, or they lack the confidence in their ability to do that. 

The second reason is when you have an environment that is enriched with certain types of people, they tend to prefer having similar people around them; this isn’t done on purpose, it’s not intentional. However, this reduces diversity in terms of gender and other terms, such as race or ethnicity. We’re definitely moving in the right direction, but it’s crucial for the entire tech sector to advocate for more women in senior leadership roles. Women should not only strive for these positions for their advancement but also to pave the way for other women and inspire greater inclusion within the industry.

Looking ahead, where do you see yourself and your role evolving at Nucleai, and what are your aspirations for the future in tech and innovation?

Science and technology are a very powerful combination. During my studies, I’ve seen how new technologies can power up and propel new discoveries that weren’t possible before.

Companies like Nucleai, with their very strong scientific understanding and very strong technology, will be leading the field in drug development. I’m a big believer in the future of science and technology hybrid companies, I would say. And specifically in the field of artificial intelligence.

The recent surge in artificial intelligence capabilities and technologies will make that future come very fast. It’s extremely powerful to extract and integrate information in its right context and to use it for doing something good for the world.

As a product manager, I’m going to be challenged by new technologies, new science, and new methodologies. This is a very complex field, and we now understand how we can move the needle for drug R&D. In that sense, product management plays a pivotal role, and I’m sure that it will keep evolving and become more and more challenging and central to the company’s decision-making.

 

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