On June 1, Tomer Cohen officially began his first day as the global head of product at LinkedIn, the world’s biggest social media platform for professional networking. In practice, he is No. 2 in the company, reporting directly to new CEO Ryan Roslansky and in charge of several thousand employees.
Cohen made the complex transition into his new role without leaving his home in Palo Alto and with three young children underfoot. Like the rest of the employees in Silicon Valley, and much of the global high-tech industry, Cohen has not been to the office since March. “Yes, it was a special experience,” he recalls. LinkedIn, says Cohen in an telephone interview, was one of the first companies in Silicon Valley to send its employees to work from home.
“At first you work from the living room with the kids hanging off your shoulder, and you slowly find an arrangement that works,” he says. “There’s research showing that working from home is more productive but causes us to be at work more. That is, if it used to be called ‘working from home,’ today there’s a sense that you are living at work. People feel it.”
Cohen, 40, was born and raised in the southern Israeli city of Be’er Sheva. His parents immigrated from Tunisia and lived in ma’abarot, or transit camps, in the 1950s. “My parents’ path in life was a great inspiration for me and my siblings. As with many families, they came as refugees, and as children they had to work to support their families. They believed that education and a love of learning were the way to break out and flourish.” His father went back and finished high school later, earned an undergraduate degree and became a career officer in the Israel Air Force. His mother was a kindergarten teacher for several decades.