October 29, 2020
“As a woman in IT I was always the minority, wherever I went and worked. I had so many teams in which I even was the only woman. It feels quite good to have a lot of women either working or interested in IT with whom you can share experiences with.”
Who are you? What do we need to know about you?
I’m Asli Aladag and I currently work as a product owner at MOIA in Hamburg for 2 and a half years where I am taking care of two operational core products. I’m originally from Istanbul and studied Industrial Engineering. And then I moved to Germany for my Master’s Degree which I completed 10 years ago. I worked in Berlin for 6 years in several industries, for example, I worked in the online gaming industry for a while, as well as in analytics tools for apps and then I switched to mobility. In all those positions I worked as a product owner and product manager. And now since the last four years I work in the mobility sector, being in IT with DEVS and stakeholder management.
How did you discover moinworld?
When I lived in Berlin, one of my close friends was one of the hosts at a Women Techmakers Meetup. I attended a few of their events and also held a couple of talks at those meetups. After I moved to Hamburg I was eager to find connections again with supportive women in groups, where you learn from each other. While I was searching I found moinworld and also did a talk at a meetup. Later, when I checked the website I found the mentoring program. I thought mentoring people would be a great addition.
What do you think makes this program special?
I think it is really different from other programmes. I am really happy that moinworld puts effort into pairing people that have similar backgrounds and similar expectations. I liked how the pairs were basically handpicked and assigned to each other. I also really like the community because everyone is trying to learn from each other and support one another. It is also inclusive for everyone who wants to join. As a woman in IT I was always the minority, wherever I went and worked. I had so many teams in which I even was the only woman. It feels quite good to have a lot of women either working or interested in IT with whom you can share experiences with. I also felt like there is no judgement, just a supportive community in which you can talk about the challenges you face. The people try to help you instead of judging you or making you feel like you are the one that is doing something wrong.
Can you tell us something about the relationship with your mentee?
I would call myself very lucky in terms of the relationship I have with my mentee. First of all, she was very proactive and she never gave me the feeling that I am the one pushing for things. She asked for help and ideas when needed. Everytime we looked at the semi-structured plan, she was very open to all the ideas. It actually became such a trusting relationship, and even before the mentorship program was over, she asked me if we could meet up from time to time – due to Corona we were only able to meet once in real life. I genuinely enjoyed it and I still enjoy it because we still meet from time to time. It was an amazing experience for both of us. Personally, I had to understand the challenges she was going through which were different than I have in my daily life. It was really nice to brainstorm together and understand how we can support each other. I was happy that she valued my input and was always appreciative. That put me in a position where I had to deal with different challenges, come up with solution proposals and communicate with her. She was also very receptive and friendly. That’s the reason why we still do sessions from time to time, update each other on Whatsapp and talk about other things, unrelated to work, too. I think we both learned quite a lot and support always helps.
Did you have any expectations before you joined the mentorship program?
I did but I tried to keep my expectations low since it is a relationship you build with random people with different backgrounds, different expectations who are also in different phases in life. But overall my expectation was to be able to support someone and also learn from someone. I do not think a mentor-mentee relationship consists of only a mentor who is there to teach you things or provides you with solutions to problems you couldn’t solve on your own. It’s more like you both have different expectations and you share them to see ways how to take advantage of the expectations the other had. Like I said, I’d call myself very lucky because it exceeded my expectations and I am definitely grateful for my mentee because it helped me to understand the problems and challenges. I also had to do a lot of research, from which I also learned a lot.. I am also glad that it was not a formal mentor-mentee relationship which ends when the program ends. We both still talk and it is a good feeling that shows a nice base for trust.
Did you miss anything in moinworld’s program?
Not being able to meet face to face was not as a big challenge as I thought it would be. I mean, we managed to meet up one time but a mixture of both would be great. However, this has nothing to do with moinworld, anyway. Overall, liked how the pairs were basically handpicked and assigned to each other
Is there anything you would recommend to other women (in IT)?
Yes, definitely. Look around for support because most of the time we get so overwhelmed with the challenges we deal with. I believe women have a greater tendency to worry that they are doing something wrong. Finding a support system definitely helps to understand that you are not doing a bad job since everyone has their own challenges. Exchange is also important. Not to just understand people on a business level but also on a personal level. When you have someone who doesn’t judge you, who listens to you, and gives you suggestions, you feel more empowered. I would definitely tell others to find a support circle from other women, within or outside a company, in meetups or in a friend circle with similar professional backgrounds. Also, believe in yourself!
How was your experience as a woman in tech?
Overall, positive so far. But I think it comes with a lot of challenges. On a daily basis when I am in meetings or in bigger rounds of 20-30 people, I’d be the only woman. However, I don’t see this as a negative thing, rather even positive because you kind of stand out in a way. I was also lucky that in most of the settings people actually appreciated the fact that I was there and was not an outsider. But at the same time, over the years, I had the impression that a lot of women have a different way of working or the drives are a little bit different, compared to men. So sometimes when I try to be more empathetic, which intrinsically comes up, I notice some discussions are more straightforward and a little bit more unemotional. But this is definitely not a general case, it just happens from time to time. I try to see the bright side because I think I’ve learned how to deal with difficult and tough situations. Also, because women are a minority in tech, at almost every company I worked at, I received support from other women within the company whenever I complained and asked for help. I think everyone felt the same way (that we were a minority), so we have to support each other because otherwise we wouldn’t have any support at all.
All in all, a positive experience with a lot of challenges.
How was it for you to work in the online gaming industry?
I was more on the marketing side, so I was not involved in developing the games. That was really interesting but back in the days, 6-7 years ago, apps were just taking off. Unfortunately, it was not something I could relate to, to be honest. Some of my colleagues who were into gaming were really thrilled. For me, now, it’s the opposite. I am in mobility and I do feel thrilled because I can relate to it.
All in all, it was nice, definitely. I learned a lot but I think people who are interested in online gaming would have been more enthusiastic about it. The industry is very young, so there are still things to come.
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We will also have a Meetup celebrating the ending of our first mentors and mentees batch in September. Everybody is welcome to join and listen to some of the success stories. Just follow our events!
Read more about some of our great mentors here.