Mimi Kravetz worked on employment branding at Google as a human resources marketing executive, helping the company attract and keep top talent by fostering an unconventional yet wildly successful work environment. Now, she plans to bring her own skills in recruiting and development to Hillel International as the organization’s first chief talent officer. Kravetz spoke to The Jewish Week from Silicon Valley, where she will launch Hillel International’s new West Coast office in August. This is an edited transcript.
Q: What was your involvement in Hillel as a college student?
A: I was one of the leaders in the Reform movement at Tufts, so I helped run weekly Shabbat services. I was really involved in a Jewish women’s collective that met monthly for Rosh Chodesh services, and then I was a leader in some of our Israel work and particularly, at that time, our Arab-Israeli dialogue groups.
You were also a Hillel Jewish Campus Service Corps fellow at Stanford. How did that experience shape your perspective on Hillel’s role in the broader Jewish community?
When I was on campus at Stanford, I loved the work. Spending time with college students really reinforces for you what an important time this is for people, where they’re really figuring out who they are and what they want to be. They’re deciding what their adult lives are going to be about, everything from their careers to their spiritual identity and community. I found that as a Jewish professional, building relationships with students during this period and helping them connect Jewishly in all different ways meant a lot to these students, many of whom I still have relationships with. I think it had a big impact in their decision to commit in some way to bringing Jewishness into their adult lives. The work I did at Hillel was the best work of my life.
What do you think is the key to a successful campus Hillel?
I think one of the things that’s essential is having strong leaders and strong staff that relate to students, because they’re really the ones that are creating the experience. One of the things Hillel International will do through this process … is figure out a culture that makes Hillel International one organization. I think by creating a “one Hillel” culture and mindset where there’s a lot of knowledge sharing, there’s a chance for Hillel International to do a better job relating to local campuses, and for them to share more best practices with each other to make them stronger.
What lessons will you take from Google to help attract young Jewish professionals to work with Hillel International or the Jewish community at large?
Google is here to build technology that makes people live better lives. That mission is what attracts a lot of people, and how every individual in the organization is part of that greater mission. For Hillel, and for a lot of the work in the Jewish community, that story is there in a deep way already. It just needs to be told in a way that helps people understand the meaning and the individual impact they can have by being part of this work. And then there’s general lessons about human resources practices that I think we can take. For example, I think that being a great place to work is essential to attracting great talent. One of the things I want to spend time doing up front is figuring out what it would take to make Hillel International, to make all the local Hillels, great places to work, and what it would take to create the kind of culture that’s empowering and inclusive and open and transparent that would make people even more excited to work in that environment.