Keren Halperin is the Deputy CEO & Chief of Staff at Sharegain, a capital markets fintech democratising the $2.5tn securities lending industry.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’ve been in capital markets for more than 20 years, but started in tech – going back to my time in the Israeli army’s 8200 Signals Intelligence Unit. When I left, I went to join one of the world’s first algo trading companies – Final – as a trader. It was an amazing experience: working in a very fast-growing company, alongside brilliant minds.
At the time, I was also studying Law & Economics at Tel Aviv University (TAU). After I graduated, I moved to the regulatory side of things. I worked in the Legal Department of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) for more than seven years, managing a number of macro-level projects – while doing an MBA, also at TAU.
But I was missing the pace and feel that comes from working in a startup. So after I moved to London with my family, I set up my own company, bringing deal-flow from London-based startups to Israeli VCs. At the same time, I set up and managed the 8200 alumni network in the EU.
Then I met Sharegain founder & CEO Boaz Yaari. After the usual pleasantries, I asked what his company was doing. When he told me, my ears immediately pricked up, as there are hardly any capital markets Fintechs. I joined straight after – this was 2018 – as the Chief of Staff, and then Deputy CEO. I now manage the day-to-day of the company and look after company culture and scaling-up.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I start my day with 15 minutes of yoga. Every day. Coffee comes after yoga! I’m not usually the first one in the office – I come in around 10. I quickly wend my way through my inbox and then decide on the three most important and urgent things I have to do that day.
I usually have multiple meetings and calls during the day. But I make sure to check in on the client side – with the Customer Success team – making sure I keep on top of any people issues I may need to know about, and looking at what’s happening on the markets, and in terms of our own activity.
My days are usually extremely busy. And what I like most about my job is that every day is different. I leave the office around 6 or 7pm. And because we also operate in the U.S., I usually find myself logging in at home to see if anything is happening Stateside. If I need to sit down and write, this is when I usually do it.
That’s not to say I don’t do anything else. I have two girls – aged 8 and 10 – so we tend to have lots of kids running around the house. I make them dinner, and make sure they do their homework. And then I might try to watch something funny in the evening, to unwind. I turn in between midnight and 1am, and sleep for six to seven hours each night.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Yes. Our company policy is three days in office, two from home. I come in every day, but I also travel a lot – almost every other week – so there is no “typical” day.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I saw an interview with Jeff Bezos and he mentioned that it’s not about how many hours you work, it’s more about the energy you create and then take with you to wherever you go next. Of course, if you work 18 hours a day, there is no balance. But on the flip side, you could work three hours a day and be extremally frustrated. Does that count as work-life balance?
In my mind, you need to ensure you enjoy what you do, and that you’re creating positive energy throughout the day – whether working from home or the office – because you bring that energy to other people.
So it’s mainly about being totally present where you are, and making the most of it. Humour and fun are a must, because that’s how you create the right culture, increasing engagement and productivity.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I started surfing. It’s changed my life. I think it is a great metaphor for life: most of the time you are paddling, waiting, and you have to be in shape and sufficiently aware to recognize opportunities.
Once you succeed, you are on the wave for just a few seconds. There’s nothing like it! But then you dive back in straight away, looking to catch the next wave or milestone. At my first surfing lesson the instructor told me I had to enjoy and see the value in paddling. “If the only thing you enjoy is being on the wave,” he said, “you’re going to get frustrated.”
I think it is the same in life, and especially in startups. If you don’t see the value in the journey, it’s almost impossible to go the distance.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World; The Hard thing about Hard Things; The Growth Mindset, which started as a parenting book, before morphing into a management tool. Podcast: Masters of Scale; Newsletter: Money Stuff by Matt Levine.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Down Dog app for yoga; Apple Music.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
It may sound a bit clichéd, but if you do the things you enjoy and love, and do them with people you enjoy working with, it will bring more joy to other parts of your life.
Before you go…
If you’d like to sponsor or advertise with Balance the Grind, let’s talk here
Join our community and never miss a conversation about work, life & balance – subscribe to our newsletter