Naz’s journey into the tech industry began with a childhood fascination for a certain TV show on the Discovery Channel called “How It’s made”.
The program illustrates how everyday objects are created, revealing behind the scenes engineering secrets of the products we use on a regular basis.
According to Naz, the show “played an important role” in her future choice of career, and by elementary school Naz had already written a confident note to her teacher, with the words: “I will be an engineer”.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Naz decided to study Mechanical Engineering at Boğaziçi University, one of Istanbul’s leading academic institutions.
Despite completing a demanding degree, Naz’s greatest struggle began after graduating, when she decided to apply for tech-related jobs.
Naz was inspired to look more closely at the tech industry during a university career fair. In contrast to traditional engineering, creating things in the tech industry sounded even more exciting.
However, Naz’s job applications were rejected over 50 times. She told us “everyone kept asking her why are you going into tech when you have a mechanical engineering degree?”
Despite all the rejections, Naz refused to give up, and eventually found a job at GKFX, a global financial services provider specializing in foreign exchange products.
She joined the tech team as an IT Process Analyst, having received some tech training during a government-funded software development program that accepted her application.
Naz told us that “thanks to these courses, I had something to tell about the tech world during my first interviews”. However, although she reported directly to the CTO, she realized she still had a lot to learn.
Reminiscing on those times, Naz told us “I didn’t know anything about scrum, agile, or SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) during those days. I didn’t even know about back-end…and I pronounced back-end as ‘backhand’, which resulted in a lot of tennis jokes. Basically, I was completely lost in my first days, because everyone was talking in an alien language…but I adapted rapidly.”
Naz subsequently joined YapiKredi as a Business Process Analyst, and by then Naz was completely convinced tech was for her.
She was learning skills that every product manager needs, like optimizing customer experiences, researching technological developments and monitoring new product launches.
Meanwhile, she was complementing her knowledge by attending workshops in her free time. Fiercely determined, Naz told us she “took every single workshop so seriously and tried to make use of them…and I still use what I learned from UX workshops today”.
Frustrated that much of the actual coding was still being done by others, Naz couldn’t help but feel jealous. Her ultimate goal was to fully immerse herself in the tech industry by joining a successful startup and working closely with developers.
Recalling those stressful times, Naz explained that to achieve the job of her dreams “every step taken had to be scheduled. I didn’t miss any opportunities. This was my war for almost 3 years. I don’t know how many times I got rejected in the first place because of my background. I built everything step by step, and here I am now.”
Where Naz is now is exactly where she wants to be. She is a successful Product Manager at one of Turkey’s leading ecommerce companies: Trendyol.
Reflecting on her career so far, Naz told us that “my biggest challenge was getting into the tech world. I have learned that no matter how many times you get rejected, you should keep trying and make time for self-development…”
As a Product Manager, Naz told us she is “responsible for everything about the product and team, including tracking server/service purchases, understanding customer expectations/problems, designing mock-ups, helping developers to find the right resources, developing product, and responding to customer complaints…”
Supporting this role is a corporate culture that encourages communication and teamwork. Naz told us that “every single member of Trendyol Group is valued…we always have a chance to talk and everyone is actually listening. If we back our thoughts with data, then ta-da… they arrange everything for us without hesitation.”
Naz’s enthusiasm for the tech industry is contagious and she firmly believes that with tech, “you can produce a product just by having an idea and passion, acquire knowledge on the road, improve your product over time…and you don’t even need any raw materials. It is pure magic.”
With quite an impressive career behind her already, Naz was willing to share some of her own magical wisdom. In order to become a successful product manager, she told us that:
1. First and foremost, you need to be curious. You should want to learn about both business and coding, and use that curiosity to fuel the continuous learning you will need to truly excel.
2. You have to be a people’s person. Helping people to solve problems should be your driving ambition, because you will always be customer facing, and working with a team of developers at all times.
3. From a technical standpoint, it’s important to have a good foundation in technical skills, including how Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) work, how to use Structured Query Language (SQL) and how to navigate test cases.
We also asked Naz whether she has any advice for alumni who have graduated from our Web Development Bootcamp here in Istanbul. She told us alumni should:
1) Keep coding! The moment you graduate, keep making projects as soon as possible. Pick an industry, like e-commerce, and go out and design a landing page to show off your new skills. Post it onto Git, show what you can do to others, raise awareness. They will notice you!
2) Keep learning! Keep reading and start writing about the continued knowledge you are accumulating. Share all of this additional knowledge by posting articles on LinkedIn or Medium, cover what interests you and important topics for your future tech career.
Naz was born and raised in Gümüşhane and has lived in Istanbul for over 25 years. Having set her sights on the tech industry from the start, we were curious to hear how she felt about the future of tech in this incredible metropolis.
In response, Naz was quick to point out that “angel investors are the biggest strength of the Turkish tech ecosystem, as with many other countries… and the Turkish people are eager to learn what is necessary to boost the tech ecosystem.”
Overall, Naz told us she is “optimistic about the future of Turkish tech, and that the government will recognize the potential of this huge industry by increasing their support for the sector. Right now, the biggest challenge is keeping talent in Turkey, because many are poached by foreign companies, however that creates an opportunity for the others who want to stay here.”
When Naz was inspired as a child to become an engineer by the Discovery Channel, she couldn’t have known that her future career wasn’t going to be in mechanical or industrial engineering, but in software engineering.
However, the minute she realized that the tech industry was where she belonged, she used sheer determination to overcome all the obstacles in her way and despite being rejected countless times, she refused to quit.
Instead, Naz worked hard to supplement her knowledge wherever she could and as a result she was able to land the job of her dreams. If she can do it, then so can you.