Lead(H)er profile - Suzy Peled, VP of Finance at CyberArk
Where did you grow up and how would you describe yourself as a child?
I was born in Israel to a stay at home mother and father who worked for the Israeli water infrastructure agency. I am the middle child with two sisters, and as a kid we were all pushed by my mother to excel in school, in sports and in music. While my sisters focused on classical piano, I was more interested in athletics and was a competitive gymnast until I was 14. I was always a little reserved and quiet as a child, though quite happy and playful.
What did you study in college and what was your first job out of school?
While my mom wanted me to study Math, I preferred something more practical and went for the study of Economics. My first job out of school was in one of the pioneers of e-learning, Arel, where I started as the Assistant Controller.
Can you share the details on your career path and what were the critical moments that got you to where you are today?
I worked for Arel for several years then I moved to Boston with my husband when he got admitted to the MIT Sloan MBA program. There, I had a wonderful first year simply enjoying the international student body we became part of. I still have many friends in the States, in Central and South America, and in Europe from that time.
A “critical” moment came towards the end of that year when I was offered an interview by a fellow spouse of an MIT student who was heading back to Israel and vacating her position at a yet relatively unknown Israeli startup called Cyber-Ark. My interview with the two founders, Udi Mokady and Alon Cohen, was, in retrospect, a life-changing event, since it is now nearly 17 years later, and I am still with the Company, and still working closely with Udi, while CyberArk has grown from a few dozens, to a publically traded company with over 1,500 employees.
Another big “critical” moment, was, of course, the road to the IPO and the IPO itself where I took part of and was one of the proudest moments in my life.
What is your current role and responsibilities?
I am now heading the Finance department for the Americas. Americas are around 60% of the pie so that means that there’s a lot of activity in this region, in all aspects.
I have a team of around 20 employees in various positions.
Looking back, is this where you thought you’d be in your professional career? Was it always your goal to be in this position?
So the truth is that I always had a passion for sports and honestly wanted to be one of those reporters that could stand on the field and watch great games from ground 0. I was close to that path once, while still in Israel, when a director in Arel offered to hook me with a local TV channel; but soon thereafter came MIT and the move and I eventually stuck with finance. To say that it was a childhood dream to be running numbers for a living would be a stretch, but the responsibility, and the impact, are both things that fit me, so overall, yeah, I think I did very well and am very pleased with where I am.
For people who are looking to be in a similar position, what advice would you give to others in terms of helping them achieve their career goals?
Most of it are obvious things. In every position, but especially in finance, you need to be able to trust the people doing the work. Too much depends on it, there are too many details for things to be micromanaged, so the main thing I am always looking for in new hires are credibility, candor, and ability to remain focused, to stay true to your promises, dedication. Ability to listen, to seek and accept constructive criticism, all these are necessary. Beyond that, to thrive in any job I believe you need to somehow find things that please you or at least don’t make you suffer, so whatever a passion for accounting is (if there is such a thing ☺), you should have it.
What do you find most interesting/rewarding about your work? What’s most challenging?
There is never a dull moment for me. I enjoy being busy, and admit that I like the stress too.. Not sure I am a workaholic, but I do find myself working in some way most of the time. Again, the truth is I enjoy it for the most part.
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
I grew with the company. I have many friends here who’ve been my friends for a seriously long time now. I believe there is such a thing as “the CyberArk DNA”, and that it sets us apart from other organizations. So looking at the Company, the way it keeps evolving, makes me very proud. I see the fingerprints of the many people I know and love on it, as well as my own.
Also, I am proud of my team. I think there is nothing trivial in getting a group of individuals to collaborate successfully day in and day out under tremendous stress and crazy timelines without the whole thing falling apart. I look at the growth of these individuals and though it is obviously their achievement and not my own, I take pride in it. In the fact that I found the right people. It’s definitely satisfying.
Are you involved with any professional organizations outside of the company? Volunteer work?
I do a little volunteering with my kids from time to time, and am looking to increase that time commitment.
What’s next for you and your career?
No idea! That’s the fun part
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Spending time with my family, walking my dog, traveling to new places, watching football, going to Rock concerts or good shows, hiking, going to the beach in Tel-Aviv.
I try to do some Yoga or Pilates and recently joined a mom’s catchall team (and I love it!)
How do you manage stress?
I try to keep a sense of proportion in general and work hard on separating signal from noise.
How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?
What's one of your favorite places in the Boston area?
Cambridge. Where our American adventure began.
Any book or podcast recommendations? (Professional or fun)
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
Podcast – How I built it series
Rise and Fall of Elizabeth Holmes’ Theranos
What advice do you have for recent college graduates?
I believe that to be happy in your work you need to find something that plays to your natural skills and interest you more than titles and fiscal rewards.