When the world’s largest cyber company became interested In the purchase of the Bridgecrew company which was founded and managed by Idan Tendler, a high-tech entrepreneur, social entrepreneur and senior vice president in Palo Alto, he had to go through an interview that is very similar to classic job interviews, an unusual matter for him, since during his career, which included the establishment of two companies and their sale, he usually sat on the sidelines the interviewer. In the same interview that led to the purchase, he was asked routine interview questions like what are your weaknesses and where do you see yourself in five years.
“When a start-up is acquired by a large company, the one who interviews it is the CEO. It’s a very sharp interview, sometimes very revealing, and the CEO has to understand very deeply the business, the product market fit, the fit of the product to the market, the status of the startup, customers, and wonder about the entrepreneurs. It’s more of a conversation because the entrepreneurs also interview the CEO.” to understand if this is the right place for them. This is a very important conversation and in our case it was done at the height of the corona virus, so we had to do it on Zoom. It is very difficult to read the personality of the person, of both parties, in a Zoom call. But in that conversation, even though we really didn’t plan to be acquired, certainly at such an early stage, after ten minutes we realized that there was an interesting match here. We realized that we could focus on what we really like to do and get a very broad platform. For its part, Palo Alto realized that there was a potential for a very good combination, and all of this happened in a very short conversation with the CEO,” says Tendler, who today, as senior vice president, himself also conducts such conversations with entrepreneurs whose startups the company is considering acquiring.
“What I take from that interview is the thought of candidates who come to such a situation without the security, experience and prior acquaintance. For example, a candidate who comes from the social or geographic periphery, who needs to decide if the job he is interviewing for is right for him, needs to impress in that job interview situation. When I reached the position This conversation was already behind an acquired startup with millions of developers using its product, there was already a reputation. It was not yet a conversation between equals, the CEO of the largest cyber company in the world versus the CEO of the startup. Nevertheless, I came to it with a history and security.
An ultra-Orthodox candidate, for example, who is interviewed today at a high-tech company comes from a very, very challenging place. If we as employers do not understand this we will miss almost all the talent that comes from underrepresented populations. We will not realize our opportunity and commitment as an industry to this matter,” says Tendler, who founded the Place IL project about a year ago together with the Halperin Foundation, which aims to raise andTo integrate underrepresented populations in the high-tech industry.
During his career he came to job interviews from connections he had, from the army from his friends so they were friendly from the start. He then became an entrepreneur and therefore interviewed other people more than he interviewed himself both when recruiting and in his current role when the corporation is interested in startups for acquisition purposes.
“In these situations, the questions are very similar to those asked in a job interview, but the motivation is mainly interesting. When you interview entrepreneurs, it is very interesting what motivated them, why they founded the company, what is their true passion – is it developing new technology, managing, selling – every entrepreneur has something which is his favorite and it is important to know what the motivation is. Even in job interviews the most important thing in a candidate is the motivation. Not the tools and the experience but mainly the motivation to learn and adapt yourself to a new organization and develop,” he says.
To find out the motivation of the job or purchase candidate, Tendler asks where they see themselves in five years. “I ask the question to find out what the people’s dreams are and what motivates them. There are candidates who will talk about technology, about entrepreneurship, there are entrepreneurs who will talk about management and there are candidates who will talk about very specific disciplines. You can learn a lot from this about the candidate, about his dreams and where his abilities lie “.
There were also some brave job applicants who told him that they see themselves replacing him in the position of CEO in five years. The third is what you would expect from the workplace to give you so that you can progress like this,” he says.
When he interviews there is one question he almost always asks and that is ‘Tell me about the biggest mistake you made’. “It is difficult for any candidate to tell about failures, but I am mainly interested in a person’s ability to do self-analysis and self-criticism, the ability to correct and improve, openness and confidence.”
These are Idan Tanelder’s answers to the popular questions in job interviews:
1. Tell me about yourself
“I am Idan Tendler, a long-time high-tech entrepreneur and social entrepreneur. Today I am senior vice president at Palo Alto Networks, the largest cyber company in the world and I lead the entire field of application security, security of the entire development world within Palo Alto Networks. It is one of the fastest growing areas in cyber. I came following an acquisition, when Palo Alto bought my last startup where I was the CEO and co-founder. Before that I had another security startup that was sold to RSA.
In addition, on a more social note, a year and a half ago, together with my partner Keren Halperin, I founded the Place IL project, and I am its chairman. It is a high-tech social enterprise that connects all high-tech companies in Israel with the aim of recruiting and integrating underrepresented populations on a broad scale. I live in Evan Yehuda, a father of three.
I am originally from Rishon LeZion, where I grew up, where I was educated. I had an amazing childhood, I was very nerdy like that, a kid who really likes to learn and be interested. I learned Arabic from a young age. I found myself in 8200 and even though I grew up in the fourth largest city in Israel, everyone in the course was from the best schools in Israel, from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa. There a door opened for me to a new world, new people and a place that allows me to flourish and produce and excel. I served there for over five years in all kinds of leading positions and I think that in terms of citizenship, the most significant position I received was when I joined Elbit as a student.
I studied industrial engineering and management because I was interested in the side of leading tasks and people – the combination of numbers and people. I joined Elbit at a time when the most interesting defense company in Israel was not doing anything related to cyber. Precisely because I was young and lacked business experience, I had the audacity and was given the opportunity so I found myself establishing the business division that deals with cyber at Elbit Systems. I recruited friends at the beginning, I recruited the first hacker, the first developers, we brought guys from 8200 and created a vision for what Israel’s defensive cyber should look like. It started with a slide, a presentation, a business plan, a work plan, a demo and a product. It continued with the dollars that came in, with purchases for companies and in retrospect we established a start-up within a very large company that allowed us to do this”--
2. Where do you see yourself in five years?
“Of course, no one knows, certainly in our very dynamic world. But, if I look back five years, the places where I wanted to have as much influence as possible, where I bring my skills and fashion, these are the places where I achieve excellence and also make an impact. I believe that I will continue to influence mainly At the level of Israel. It is very important to me to contribute to the fact that Israel will continue to prosper and that Israel’s economic and social power will only advance further. Let’s bring Israelis together and I think that high-tech should do a very significant job here.”
3. What are your advantages?
“My advantage, if you look at the past, wherever I’ve been, whenever I’ve had, is to create a vision. That is, to mark what the gaps are, what the challenges are, what the problems are, create a vision, tell a story, build a work plan and harness people around it. What I do At Place IL and what I have done everywhere in the past is to create a vision and harness people to realize it.”
What are your weaknesses?
“Despite everything I’ve been through, and I’ve also been through successes and not a few failures, I still take things to heart. The life of an entrepreneur, like the cliché, is a roller coaster on a daily and hourly level. When things don’t go as I planned, I tend to take things to heart. There are advantages to this, for example, it Can show caring but sometimes it makes it very difficult.
For example, the first startup I founded and we sold it was not a success. We did sell him and found him a home in RSA which was a successful home but on a personal level it was not a success, it was not a successful purchase. It’s something I’ve been working on for over five years. As an entrepreneur, as a CEO, I realized that this event is related to the wrong decisions I made along the way. It makes you question yourself – maybe I’m not a good entrepreneur? Maybe I’m not a good CEO?. This is the meaning of take to heart. Today I know how to deal with it, I know that everything is not up to me. that sometimes a lot depends on me and I have to make decisions, but you don’t always have all the information and all the data. I learned about myself what I’m good at and what I’m not, where I can make decisions and I know that’s part of what motivates me. My engine is very emotional and from the heart many times.”
Tendler says that even in the interview for the purchase of Palo Alto he was asked about his advantages and disadvantages and gave exactly the same answer.
Why do you want the job?
“I believe that I can greatly contribute from my experience and tools and what I have done so far. I can also develop and learn a lot. The most important thing for me is to be in a place where I can give all my added value on the professional and personal side in a place that will allow and let me grow, that will challenge me, and that I feel that I creates value”.
On a personal level, how was the transition from your company where you are the CEO to a senior vice president in a large company?
“My transition to a large company was not easy, it was challenging. This is the first time I have a manager, the first time I work in a very large company. I am used to signing and approving huge budgets and now to approve an unusual expenditure of $150 I need permission and open three systems, it takes Time to get used to it. On the other hand, I quickly learned that working at Palo Alto Networks is a huge advantage. The scale of what you do increases by orders of magnitude, your ability to reach customers increases exponentially, the ability to develop a product and bring it to market increases inexplicably and then you can focus on what that you like to do and the guys like to produce innovation. When you understand this, you can flourish and what I discovered is that they still give us room to produce our entrepreneurial spirit. It’s like a startup inside, so we constantly maintain the pace and energies but enjoy the power of the big company.”
5. Why should we hire you?
“It’s worth hiring me because I strongly believe in the organization and the company’s goals and vision. I think that my ability to create something from nothing is to understand what is missing and what the challenge and opportunity are and learn it quickly, analyze the problem and create a vision, create a plan that will realize it and harness people around it together with passion, energy Mine and the experience – I believe it can be very good for the company and propel it forward.”