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Nice Systems - A Proud Global - Israeli Company / By Hila Yaakobi

Nice Systems is a global, Israeli high-tech company and a leader in providing advanced solutions for business organizations and government bodies, using advanced technologies to gather audio and video interaction data and to process them into information that allows decision-making, improved business and operational performance and an enhanced ability to cope with security threats. Founded in 1986, today Nice has over 2,000 employees around the world, including 800 at the company offices in Israel. Nice has extensive international operations and its range of products is sold to over 24,000 customers in 100 countries around the world.
We spoke with Omri Cheiner, deputy director of research and development in the business division, and Itai Grushka, manager of recordings in the business division's research and development department, about Nice's activities, recruitment policy, training for new employees and the advantages of working at a global company that is of Israeli origins and Israeli in essence.

What areas is Nice active in?

Omri: Nice operates in two primary markets.
The business sector: We provide efficient solutions for business organizations for the storage, retrieval and analysis of thousands of interactions with customers every day. Our customers include leading financial institutions, dealing rooms, customer service centers, health organizations, casinos, insurance companies, communications companies and transportation companies.
The security sector: We provide solutions for emergency services, allowing them to identify, prevent and respond to real-time threats. Our customers in this sector include law enforcement agencies, intelligence services, security bodies, airports, prisons, toll roads, border control, etc.

What is the company's organizational culture like? 
Omri: The atmosphere here is very professional, yet pleasant at an interpersonal level. There's no rigid hierarchy here. Of course there is a hierarchical management structure, but someone who's only been here for a month can speak with anyone else at any rank of management, if the matter is presented in a pertinent and professional manner or if he needs support in a certain area. We encourage unofficial communication. There's no excess bureaucracy and the employee doesn't have to go through a chain of command to speak with someone. On one hand we create openness and accessibility, and on the other hand we expect the employees to provide the highest possible level of professionalism. The atmosphere is a professional atmosphere of activity. It's a very pleasant place to work - both pleasant and challenging.

What type of people are you looking for to bring into the company?
Omri: Most of the people we recruit are inexperienced college graduates. Because of our size and experience it's very easy for us to train inexperienced people and bring them into a job. At the interpersonal level we're looking for people who are suited to the working atmosphere and the working method employed at the company. People who are capable of communicating, coming together and collaborating. There's no excess management at any level, not within the staff, the group or the field, so we're looking for people who know how to manage themselves and lead.

Itai: We're looking for people who have the ability and desire to grow and take charge. Of course we don't compromise in terms of technical ability. We're looking for the strongest, best, most talented people, not necessarily with experience, but people who can grow and flourish.

How is the training process for new employees conducted?
The new employee receives personal mentoring by the team leader and all of the tools he needs. We expect him to implement what is given over to him, and at the same time teach himself as needed and advance. The first stage is becoming familiar with the company and the system by executing a number of tasks at the system level, and then within the group and the staff. We have an orderly work program to train every employee for the position.


Omri Cheiner (left), deputy director of R&D in the business division,
and Itai Grushka (right), manager of recordings in the R&D department

How long does it take to train a new worker?
Omri: It usually takes three months from the time of hiring until the worker is fully effective.

Is it worthwhile for you to spend so much time training new employees?
Omri: It's an investment that pays off in the long run. We like nurturing people's growth here and prefer that they acquire their experience within the company.

Itai: We would rather invest as much as possible in an employee from the start and accompany him all along the way with personal mentoring, orderly exercises on the computer, an optimal working environment, lab work, etc., in order to achieve maximal results. Therefore coming here is like entering a hothouse with full guidance so that later they can run forward.

What screening processes does the company conduct for its candidates?
Itai: In the screening and recruitment process we focus on two facets - professionalism and interpersonal skills. In terms of professionalism the first phase is a professional interview with team leaders, including an assessment of abilities at the theoretical level. Those who are found suitable go on to the second phase, which is the main stage in providing us an indication of the candidate's suitability - a simulation of a day on the job. The goal is to assess the candidate's professional suitability and his ability to fit in socially. This is the best litmus test we have. It's an exercise, not a test. The candidate doesn't have to memorize anything and all of the help materials are at his disposal. The most significant thing is the communication with the team leader. Those who pass the professional phases go on to the softer phase of recruitment, which is the social and interpersonal suitability assessment. This phase is done with a higher ranking manager and someone from Human Resources.

What opportunities for advancement are available at Nice?
Omri: In the case of someone who enters the field of development as an inexperienced programmer, our first preference is to start by promoting him within development. In the R&D department there are two tracks that overlap almost all along the way - the professional track and the management track. There's almost full overlap between professional advancement and managerial advancement because from our standpoint every manager in development has to offer added value professionally. Managers cannot be just managers, but must be professionals from the development world who are familiar with Nice systems. We also have activities for people not defined as managers to develop their managerial and professional abilities, and we have activities for managers and team leaders or group leaders aimed at filling in gaps in their managerial skills to ensure they can carry out their job as best as possible.

Itai: Over 90% of the management level in the R&D department are people who started out here, who know what's going on. People who are very professional and have a deep understanding of the system. Opportunities for advancement are based on ability, the company's needs, motivation and managerial ability. The company, in addition to expecting the employees to provide results on time and at the level of quality required, knows how to mark people with potential and give them the tools that will allow them to advance. All of the people here are good people and we try to push all of them to achieve as much as they can. The company actively pushes toward excellence and opening up opportunities. As far as we're concerned, the moment a job-opening comes up, we prefer to promote someone from the inside rather than recruiting someone from the outside.

Do you encourage internal mobility of workers from the field of development to other fields within the company?
Omri: When someone reaches his peak in the field of development and wants to expand his horizons and develop in new fields, we definitely encourage this. We have examples from every unit of people who came from development and grew in new directions - in sales, service, support groups. Entering the field of development is a very good springboard for entering the organization, because Nice is a high-tech company that develops high-tech products, and the foundation is a very good knowledge of the product. Whether you're a salesperson, support person or service provider, you have to know the product and in this sense the developer has a very solid foundation.

As a global corporation does Nice encourage relocating employees?
Omri: Today Nice has subsidiaries around the world - in America, Asia and Europe. If people choose to advance, to move and to expand their horizons, to move to different posts, there are opportunities for them to relocate to places around the world. Generally speaking this involves sales support organizations, sales organizations and service organizations. We have quite a number of people who decided to switch to a different job and went to work at one of our subsidiary companies. When opportunities open up, there is a strong preference for people from the field of development.

What kind of working environment does Nice create for its employees?
Itai: In terms of conditions and facilities we provide the developer everything he needs to turn out the best product possible. The work environment, as well as our work model here and the informal atmosphere, greatly foster brainstorming, collaboration and joint work by various bodies. We also make sure people know how to learn on their own and find creative solutions through their own resources. We have a whole lot of professional forums, some of which are initiated by us, and others by the workers. The people here are very good friends and the work itself progresses faster and better because of this. We have good, professional people who are very committed and really care about the company.

What characterizes the company's relationship toward the employees?
Omri: Our recruitment process requires a lot of resources, both in terms of time and thought. The team leader devotes an entire day to the candidate and all told we invest a whole lot in selecting the people we want to bring into the company. We expect a great deal of our employees, both as people and professionals, and we're prepared to give almost everything to bring results. We provide all of the tools needed. This is also apparent in the environment, which is very pleasant and supportive, and at the level of benefits - a fitness room, company activities, courses, workshops and various activities in the development department and the entire company. We place a lot of emphasis on results, but above all we relate to the worker as a human being and not just a resource that's supposed to provide results. We don't believe in squeezing people dry or relating to workers as production providers. Our approach is very directed and human.

What technological challenge does Nice offer its employees?
Omri: The range of technological platforms we work with is rare and very broad. There are very few companies that work from the low level of the operating system all the way up to providing applications for the end-user, who is a business user and expects to receive insights of one kind or another. Our systems serve very large organizations, sometimes on three different continents, in a way that is synchronized with each of the servers, creating a real challenge. This is also the reason why we're looking for people who are very system-oriented, both in their understanding and their perspective, people who have broad, all-encompassing vision and who can understand networks, databases, information security and applications all at once. The very large range we operate in also has an affect on the type of people we want working here.

Looking toward the future, where is Nice headed?
Omri: Nice is currently the world leader in its field and is developing in directions we've mapped out for ourselves. All of the areas of business we've entered are developing fields, and each of these fields has technologies that support it. During the past two years, and certainly when we look ahead 3-4 years, the quantity of developments, directions, abilities and opportunities we have is enormous. The massive recruitment we're doing now is meant to allow continued development and leadership and to become the tops in our field. Both at the level of technology and business opportunities the company presently has, looking forward there's almost no end to the possibilities. The real difficulty is choosing which places we want to focus on and ensuring we have the manpower and resources and make the right decisions to enable us to continue striding forward. We see ourselves continuing to develop new technologies, use up-to-date technologies and above all, develop the solutions our customers need.

What does Nice stress in defining itself - its identity as an Israeli company or a global company?
Omri: We're a proud Israeli company, and at the same time global. Local people man all of our branches around the world. We attribute a lot of importance as a global company to connecting with the local culture and the local business environment, but when all is said and done we're a company that was founded in Israel and managed in Israel. We don't see Israel merely as the development body of an enormous company in the US or elsewhere. This has a lot of importance and advantages.

What are the advantages of being a global company headquartered and run in Israel?
Omri: As Israelis working in Israel who want to succeed in competing with the rest of the world, we have to make use of our relative advantage: creativity, ambitiousness, a way of thinking that's not always standard, the pluck needed to change or think in an unconventional way.

What is Nice's secret of success?
Omri: I don't know if there are any secrets to success, but hard, professional work are the keys to success.
In addition to our relative advantage as an Israeli company, the feeling of belonging to the company among both the Israelis and the local employees around the world, who feel a part of Nice and want to work together, is another key. The balance between creativity, abilities, daring and motivation on one hand and the feeling of belonging and the local connection to everywhere we operate on the other hand, bring about the success.


For the Hebrew Article

 
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