We always hear how Nova is all about the people, and this is even more true since COVID entered our lives. So, we sat down with Sharon Dayan, Chief Human Resources Officer at Nova, for a conversation about COVID, people and everything in-between.
First off, tell us a little about you?
I joined Nova in 2018, with a diversified experience in all human resources disciplines including strategy, organizational and people development, M&A and employee experience. Before that I spent years in several senior global HR and corporate positions. My most recent position was SVP at Teva Pharmaceutical. From the academic perspective, I have a BA in Social Science from Tel-Aviv – Jaffe college, a MSc. in Organizational Development from Tel-Aviv University and a Group dynamics diploma from Tel-Aviv university. I’m also a very proud mom to my beautiful daughter, Shachar.
Everyone was impacted by COVID. How much did the pandemic disrupt operations at Nova?
We understood very early in the pandemic that we must behave differently and do that fast and in a very transparent way, to minimize the disruption to our business. We follow three simple rules: the first is safeguarding the safety and health of our employees, second is ensuring business continuity, and the third, is that once we have decided on a plan, we share it with our employees so everyone is on board.
For us – it worked! Nova’s performance over the past year has been inspiring, with 20% growth in revenues year over year, doubling our market cap, and sales records in multiple product lines.
So, good news but business not- as-usual. So, what changed in how you worked?
The pandemic really heightened for us the importance of truly “seeing” our employees, our customers and partners – as a whole. We proactively inquired and identified partners and customers in distress to whom we were lucky enough to be able to assist. My entire HR team came together to support employees’ family members who were impacted by the economic crisis brought on by COVID. It was way beyond business – it was about caring for the people and companies that compose our eco-system.
In 2020 we fundamentally adopted a “new common environment”. With most of our customers located in Asia and the US, we quickly realized that more responsibility needed to be transferred to the field teams in our global offices, which also meant investing in training and extending virtual support from our headquarters, with engineers in Israel, guiding their peers across the globe via VR glasses.
What in your opinion, are the two major challenges you are coping with these days?
When you go into crisis mode – everyone chips in and we all work together to endure. But this is our new normal. So, my challenge is to keep everyone energized and committed to go the extra mile. I also see great importance in maintaining the team spirit and personal connection – to preserve Nova’s unique culture.
Being present from afar is our other great challenge. This is even more challenging when you are doing it through the screen. What we have done to overcome this challenge was increased 1:1’s, added morning routines, formal and informal, and offered different team spirit activities, designed by the teams themselves, each team according to the “together” mode they needed. We also encouraged our managers to work interchangeably between team capsules.
Is Nova actively recruiting? What kind of people are you looking for?
Yes, we are actively recruiting for multiple positions – our industry is growing fast and demand for our products is growing even faster.
The person you are is just as important as your experience and background. We look for passionate team players, who love challenges and want to become a part of working at the edge of technology in a successful and growing company.
Once we receive the application, someone from our talent acquisition team will contact you via email to let you know if we will continue the conversation. From there, depending on the position, you will go through several personal interviews and will most likely be given a hands-on task to demonstrate your abilities. If all goes well, you’ll get an offer and hopefully decide to join us!
We are slowly going back to normal. But how different will this normal be from what we knew before COVID?
It is now obvious that working remotely will be a great part of it. Nevertheless, our production is managed in clean rooms, the research takes place in laboratories and our work can not only take place in cyberspace. Our success is built on teamwork and innovation that are nurtured by non-stop interaction between people. Luckily, in the past year we learned that our employees manage to be both super-productive and work together even remotely.
Travel used to be a great part of our day-to-day. Now, we travel for longer periods, some even do mini relocations. I cannot say enough how much I appreciate the people at Nova – who turned their creativity, their passion, and their commitment to tackling the past year head on – and will continue to do so in 2021. I can’t wait to see everyone in person and thank them for their patience, and their resilience.