Creating a New Comfort Zone

Merav Munz used to work eighty-hour weeks until the IT expert moved to Canada and found true work-life balance

When it’s time to unwind, Merav Munz likes to kick back and indulge in one of her favourite  guilty pleasures: thumbing through magazines to catch up on the latest dish about Hollywood stars. “When your day is hectic, there’s nothing like reading good gossip in US Weekly,” laughs Munz. “It helps me keep my sanity.”

Finding the time to relax wasn’t always an easy thing for Munz to do. Before she moved to Toronto to work in information technology and media services for a large Canadian communications and media company, Munz sometimes put in more than eighty hours per week to build her reputation in the industry.

Today, Munz has the best of both worlds—a successful career and enough time out of the office to savour life’s sweeter moments, including those delightful times reserved for reading about the lives of Hollywood stars. In fact, all of her favourite magazines are now available right at her fingertips—courtesy of an app implemented by the new Toronto-based company she works for. Some might call that “coming full circle.”

As a company leader, Munz oversees a team of thirty people who facilitate everything from project management to customer engagement, solution and strategy, and production support—all surrounding the organization’s initiatives, like the magazine-reading app.

Long before Munz was a media and IT executive, she was a bright young woman trying to get her start in the tech industry. After studying computer science at Shenkar University in Ramat Gan, Israel, the ambitious graduate realized she didn’t have enough experience to tackle a position in IT—at least, not at first.

“What I liked about IT was really the technology piece of it, like how systems and innovative platforms were connected to each other,” Munz says. “I wasn’t so much interested in being a developer; I’m more about the strategy and evolution of things. So, I started in customer care. I took whatever I could.”

Munz’s open-mindedness would serve her well. After working for two years as a sales representative for Boran Technologies, she was hired at Netvision 013 Barak, where she quickly moved into a customer care supervisor role and later became the company’s billing operations lead. She then joined Intentia Consulting, where she served in the lead role in ERP implementation. “That was really where I got my main experience in billing,” Munz says.

Her success at both companies catapulted her career, and after meeting and marrying her husband, the two accepted an offer to work abroad. The opportunity was from Amdocs Inc., a telecommunications company in Champaign, Illinois. It provided software solutions and services for some of the world’s largest communication companies. While her husband worked in quality assurance, she held roles in billing conversion, data centre management, and project management.

“We had just gotten married when we started our jobs,” Munz says. “As a couple working in an outsourcing facility, the work was really intense. We were working eighty, eighty-five hours a week. It was great, and I learned a lot, but it was hectic.”

When the couple started their family, the workload became all the more intense. Something had to change.

“We decided that we wanted to move to a company where there was more work-life balance,” says Munz. “We got asked to move temporarily to Ottawa to help another Telco company with its billing conversion and that’s how we got introduced to Canada.”

The couple applied for permanent residency in the country and left Illinois upon acceptance—without any employment opportunities on the horizon. But Munz quickly landed a job at a telecom company following her first interview in the country.

“We got really excited and thought, ‘This might be possible,’” Munz says.

That was nearly ten years ago. While Munz has held a variety of positions since she first came to Canada, she feels like she has come into her own as a director of media systems. For one, she thoroughly enjoys helping the company stay in front of the media industry. She’s helped the company’s media sales teams transition to the Salesforce software platform, improved existing POS systems, and increased system stability within the company’s technological infrastructure.

One of the more visible initiatives Munz has touched is an app that streams hockey games live. “It’s a really cool app for hockey lovers,” says Munz. Seeing the project from start to finish wasn’t seamless, however. Between determining the appropriate hardware needed, the systems to support it, and the cooperation required across the organization to execute it, Munz says it took some effort to get the project off the ground. Munz credits much of the app’s success to an aggressive timeline and the hard work of her entire team. “My goal as director is just to get things going,” she says. “You want to make sure that there is an understanding of the end result. You need to be on the same page.”

Munz derives her leadership style from the mentors who gave her the opportunity to jump into large projects all those years ago.“I was very lucky to have good managers who supported me over the years and knew my drive and what I wanted to do,” she says. “You can’t be afraid of things that you don’t necessarily know; you have to challenge yourself. Sometimes moving out of your comfort zone makes you a better leader.”

Munz says her career has never given her a boring day. Should Munz ever find herself restless, however, she can always turn back to her favourite magazines.