A Day in a Life
Joining Samsung was not very different from my startup days
Rutie Adar, Head of Israel, Samsung Strategy & Innovation Center, believes that having a wide lens that includes the humanities and social studies enables better decision making and to become a better-rounded thinker
Name: Rutie Adar
Position: Head of Israel, Samsung Strategy & Innovation Center
Company: Samsung Electronics
Where do you live: The heart of Tel-Aviv
Family: Mother of three kids in their twenties
For a Starter
“Most of my career was with startups or small companies until I joined Samsung 11 years ago. I joined several seed-stage startups and was among the first employees. Working for a startup gives you a very strong sense of David vs. Goliath. Usually in the initial stages of a startup you may find yourself participating in a code review, writing a product definition, and joining a meeting with investors (I‘ve been there). It is very versatile and also very demanding. My experience working for Samsung was very similar as I joined an elite unit in its early days, so it was not very different from my startup days, and certainly no less demanding.
My moto is: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” - Marcel Proust.
My Daily Routine
I subscribe to three leading daily newspapers which arrive at my doorstep. I view this as my monthly contribution to the freedom of press, now that print journalism is declining rapidly. I devote my early mornings to catching up with the major economic, high-tech, and political news of the day. This is a chance to be exposed to new ideas.
Cup of coffee and a good breakfast that my kids prepare many times.
Since March 2020, we work mainly from home, and I only go to the office or attend in-person meetings from time to time, so my home is my fortress and my office. I start the day by going through emails, but try to devote my mornings to work that requires deeper thinking. Being part of the strategy and innovation global team, we are constantly exploring a broad range of domains from data centers to edge devices, supporting new business creation with an outlook of two to three years ahead and sometimes even longer.
Coffee break. Call my ninety-year-old parents to check they are fine. Return calls.
Continue with thesis work, examine new technology developments, and read about new trends. Also, meet with people, mainly with startups. We at Samsung Catalyst Fund actively seek the next Israeli startups to invest in, so meeting with startups is a daily routine. Samsung Catalyst Fund is Samsung’s multi-stage venture capital fund, investing in deep-tech infrastructure and data-enabled platforms. This spans across multiple domains including data center and cloud, artificial intelligence, networking and 5G, automotive, robotics, digital health, and quantum technologies. Since our fund was formed, we have made 60 investments worldwide.
Each day at noon, the Israeli team meets online to discuss our work. Investments and strategy formation are done as teamwork so these meetings are essential. In addition, it is an opportunity to sync up with relevant news both internal and external. During the past year’s lockdowns, these daily meetings helped maintain our team spirit.
Lunch time. Usually we cook but once or twice a week we order.
Besides meeting startups, we engage on a daily basis with various people from the industry, such as other investors, people working at multinational corporates, academia and more.
Coffee break. Working from home, I usually take a break for some household chores, catch up with the latest news, or just try to get up from my seat and stretch.
Last preparations of materials we will be discussing with our global team in the evening calls. Once a week I attend online webinars that start in the afternoon to attract a global audience. I really miss the amazing events our industry used to have prior to Covid-19 days. These events enabled us not only to consume great content but also to network face-to-face with others.
I begin Zoom meetings with our teams in California. At least three evenings a week I have online meetings with our California-based team that can go to 10 pm and sometimes even later. We are a global team with people based in Europe and California and our mothership is in Korea, so in rare cases I find myself in meetings in the middle of the night, at hours like 2 am for a 3-way call between California-Korea-Israel. If someone has a startup with technology that compresses this time-zone issue I would be the first to invest!
Snack in between Zoom calls or right after they end.
Other evenings are devoted to family, friends, and now that everything is opening up in Israel, going out and enjoying a wide range of culture performances. In addition, I continue studying topics that at times seem irrelevant to my daily job. These days I try to understand Spinoza’s philosophy. I found that although such topics are not directly related to technology, having a wide lens that includes the humanities and social studies enables better decision making and helps me be a better-rounded thinker. After all, technology is used for the sake of solving the major challenges mankind faces and helping each and every one of us lead a better life.
Some TV escapism and meditation till I fall asleep close to midnight.
One experience you will never forget:
My first business trip was to Japan at the age of 26 as part of a technology transfer to a large Japanese corporation. I was told that people in Japan are very formal, and you need to stick strictly to the set schedule. However, my Japanese hosts chose a beautiful location near Mt. Fuji for our working sessions. I asked them with my Israeli Chutzpa whether instead of sessions between 9am-4pm, we can have them at 8am-11am and 4pm-8pm and tour around in between. They agreed and we had a great time and forged real bonds. I learned to always be myself and dare to propose changes.
What music do you listen to?
Songs from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, especially British and Israeli Rock. It is always the music you grow up on in your teens and twenties that keeps touching you.
Apple or Android?
As a Samsung employee of course it is Android on Samsung phones, but I think this also fits my free-spirited personality that opposes walled-garden scenarios.
What do you want to do when you grow up?
I have a dream. There has been too much emphasis on technology and science in our schools and afterschool activities. We are lacking a good education in the humanities. My dream is to build an afterschool platform that will expose kids during their teens to quality education in philosophy, law, sociology, literature, and similar studies in a joyful way.