It seems that Iris Sclar’s path to RPA was almost predestined. After an early position as a programmer with software and services provider Amdocs, she moved on to a senior consulting role with the company, refining her business process design and management skills and gaining experience with a varied customer base. Now, after nine years with Bank Leumi, an Israeli financial institution with branches worldwide, she may have found her ideal position. Leading the organization’s robotics department and expanding RPA initiatives, she’s able to effect real change, enhancing commercial outcomes and customer experiences while also improving employees’ daily work lives.
Why did you choose RPA/Intelligent Automation as your career path?
I find RPA, AI and other developing technologies enormously intriguing. These innovations are the future, tools that will allow us all to focus on the more creative parts of our businesses and invest less on the operations side, which is routine and time-consuming.
What enabled your success in this field?
I started by creating a vision for an RPA CoE (center of excellence), one that’s well managed by dashboards. Then I built a special "criteria questionnaire" for business units to help me find the right processes for RPA. Once those are implemented, it’s important to motivate management and employees with “quick wins” – small, routine operational processes can have a big impact on the daily work of employees. If possible, choose processes that are the most time- consuming. Success automating these processes helps everyone recognize and embrace the value of RPA. Apart from these steps, it’s important to always look at the big picture and grow gradually to be able to implement RPA at scale, ideally creating an "RPA factory.”
How do you see the market developing in the next few years?
I envision every organization with two groups of employees: humans and robots. At call centers, I see every employee sitting with a hybrid robot—like a discovery process tool—that records all the repetitive, routine functions installed on his or her station. Then with employee’s permission, that robot directly performs those functions so the employee can be more available to give customers the best "human" service they need.
I would also like to see end-to-end customer order automation for operational centers, OCR through NLP (based on AI machine learning), ending with a robot actually completing the order.
What do you love about your job?
I’m inspired by the amount of creativity needed every day. It’s stimulating to be involved with a top technology that’s evolving so fast.
What is your biggest professional challenge?
While coping with old systems and screens is challenging, employees sometimes find it difficult to adapt to new technologies, including RPA. No one finds change easy, but we are constantly moving forward and evolving, and new innovative technologies are a big part of that.
How has being a woman impacted your professional journey?
I haven’t spent much time thinking about it directly. But I do feel like there’s an implied pressure to overperform. It’s a feeling that as women we not only have to do our job well, but we need to go above and beyond and work that much harder.
What is your advice for young women who are interested in or entering the RPA space?
I started out as a programmer, then moved on to systems integration and other business process optimization. But there is no right path. Just go for it! It's fascinating! Just make a start, work hard and the rest will happen naturally.
How can we inspire women to pursue tech careers and in RPA specifically?
It has to start early, encouraging female students to pursue educational paths that will help them succeed, followed by supportive work environments. Mentors are also incredibly valuable.
Technology is still male-dominated. Since RPA is fairly new, do you see it differently or evolving more quickly to include more women?
I’m surrounded by some fantastic women in RPA so it’s possible that it’s more accepting. But I also think it mirrors other technology sectors: growing in numbers, but not enough. More women are pursuing careers in RPA. It’s happening, but it could be faster.
Only 5% of today’s tech leadership positions are held by women. How do you think more women in leadership roles will change the tech landscape?
That statistic is quite shocking. More women in leadership positions will lead to more gender-balanced workplaces, which could fundamentally change the way we work, collaborate and innovate. I’m hopeful!
As times continue to be uncertain, these women help keep us inspired. Be sure to read about other amazing thought leaders in our "Women in RPA" series.