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Finding Women Speakers

Our latest workshop had 50% women speakers. How this almost didn’t happen and how it can be easier next time

Noam Inbar of Oracle presenting the enterprise’s point of view

1. Deciding it will happen

That part was fairly simple to do. Moving on to #2.

2. Identifying Guidelines

  • One compromise I was not willing to make was the on the level of expertise and the quality of the content. Getting access to practical ‘know-how’ and hands on experience is the core essence of this event and would not be jeopardized.
  • The factor I could compromise on, to a degree, was speaking experience. I was not willing to let this platform be the speaker’s first time on stage, but I was willing to have a speaker who had previously presented only 2–5 times vs. dozens of times (as most of our past speakers usually have). The reason I did insist on some public speaking experience is that you need to have spoken publicly, at least once, to know how it feels and what should be improved for next times.
  • I was most willing to be flexible on the level of seniority. As long as the presenter was a real expert in the discussion topic, there was no need for the C or VP letters in the title.
  • “The Overlooked COO”. While the COO is sometimes mistaken as an ‘operations only’ position, in some companies it is the job leading a large chunk of the business. Women COOs are easier to find than women CEOs. The most famous example is, of course, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook. Local examples include Naama Ofek Arad, COO of Riskified and Keren Levy, COO of Payoneer.
Naama Ofek-Aarad, COO of Riskified, leading a round-table about pilots and customer onboarding

3. Money time — finding the right speaker

Be it man or woman, how do we find a speaker for a topical event?

  • The first step for me was deciding on general subtopics. In this particular event, we wanted to cover sales, partnerships, and enterprise point of view. The last subtopic was flexible — either customer success and upsell or enterprise-facing product. The final topic is defined with the speaker.
  • Then, we make a list of the best born-in-Israel companies relevant to the topic (in this case, growth stage enterprise-facing companies). We believe outstanding companies are founded and led by A players, and that A players bring more A players to the team. We are not willing to compromise on the speaker being from anything other than an outstanding company.
  • Next, we mapped women holding executive positions in such companies.
  • Then we needed to reference them. At Aleph, we have a reference tool, developed by our Ampliphy team mainly for due-diligence purposes. It turned out to be super useful for this purpose as well.
  • Generally, the methodology is finding people you trust who worked with the person you are referencing. We reached out to them, bluntly saying “Hi, we are looking for a woman speaker for this event and wondered whether X could be a good fit. Wdyt?”. These reach outs often yield even more recommendations for potential speakers.
  • Another useful resource was the above-mentioned list of women speakers initiated by Barr Yaron, founder of Women of Startup Nation, who was a summer associate at Aleph and is now an MBA candidate at Stanford. We found one of the speakers, Julie Deutsch from WalkMe, using Barr’s list, and referenced her as described above.
Julie Deutsch from WalkMe speaking about cross-sell and upsell

4. Tackling frustration points — when not to give up

  • While all men we reached out to speak immediately agreed, the women were generally more hesitant. If they didn’t feel they could deliver this 110%, some preferred not to participate at all. This aligns with research findings of women not applying for positions if they only partially meet the requirements, vs. men who do. I found myself convincing women they should take part at the event even if they had only a short while to prepare / little public speaking experience / they had other commitments and didn’t think it was the best use of their time. It was easy for me to give them this extra push because after the reference collection I was already convinced that the chances were good that they would be excellent speakers.
  • But mostly, this was a long process because it was the first time that we were doing it. The more we repeat it, the easier it will become. This is where you come in.

Thanks to all the wonderful speakers who generously shared their knowledge and expertise at Aleph.Bet B2E — Guy Bloch of Bringg, Amir Haramaty of Sparkbeyond, Noam Inbar of Oracle, Julie Deutsch of WalkMe and Naama Ofek-Arad of Reskified.



Aleph is a venture capital fund focused on partnering with great Israeli entrepreneurs to build large, meaningful companies and impactful global brands. It is a partnership of Michael Eisenberg, Eden Shochat, Yael Elad and Tomer Diari. Visit

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