Eda Salihoglu

Eda Salihoglu Data & Analytics Manager at Kaizen shares her career story and her advice for getting more women into tech with WeAreTechWomen.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role?

I am an industrial engineer turned marketer so naturally I positioned myself in the most quantitative field of marketing – analytics. I’ve worked in agencies and client-side throughout my career.

At the moment I’m working agency side, building an analytics offering for Kaizen as the Data & Analytics Manager. What started as automating reports and building dashboards has now branched out into conversion rate optimisation, platform audits/migration and attribution analysis. It’s really exciting to be developing these services from scratch and seeing their benefits both internally and externally.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career? 

I’m now at a place where I can spend time career planning but it’s taken me 5 years to get here. I do now, although it took me 5 years to get here. When I started off in my career, I wasn’t sure which route I wanted to pursue. I believe it’s crucial to firstly decide which field you want to excel in and focus your efforts towards it. That said, you can only plan so far; having a vague idea on what kind of an industry you want to work in or which tasks make you most excited is usually enough. There are, of course, certain milestones I want to hit which would make me very happy but in my experience keeping them flexible instead of concrete is more sustainable and empowering.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Of course, who hasn’t? There’s been many times where I felt like I lacked the skills or support to advance in a role. It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re very clearly bound by red tape in a company, or you don’t get to work on projects that will introduce you to new platforms or methodologies. In the past I’ve found myself being sidelined while project allocations were unjustly made for other people, which I found particularly challenging.What helped me the most was communicating my frustrations and making a case for how I can be of use in a specific piece of work. If your superiors are willing to listen and take action, great! In cases where this didn’t happen, I had to remind myself of my own worth and potential contribution I could bring if given the opportunity, which gave me the drive to improve my skills even further and also look for other options where I could harness them.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

That would probably have to be creating an analytics service from scratch as part of my current role at Kaizen. It’s such a multi-faceted task; from collating all the existing capabilities in the company to productising offerings and thinking of how best to market the new service. At times it feels overwhelming but the simple task of listing everything we can offer from dashboards to conversion rate optimisation is enough to show me how far I’ve come in my career and all I’m yet to achieve.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?  

Not comparing yourself to others. There will always be instances where someone who has less experience or skills than you landing better roles or reaching certain milestones earlier. It’s easy to get discouraged when that happens and start questioning whether you’ve done things wrong. In my experience, this kind of thinking always ends up doing more damage than good. More often than not, staying true to yourself and doing things at your own pace leaves you more fulfilled and less anxious. I’ve seen people land opportunities prematurely and have bouts of crippling self-doubt – ultimately there’s no one-size-fits-all timeline.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology? 

Because it’s such an ever-changing field, I believe being platform-agnostic alongside having a workable grasp on different analytics or development methodologies work is crucial. Taking every opportunity to work with different tools and platforms, exposing yourself to new ways of thinking and not shying away from spending time on self-development would be my top tips.

What barriers for women working in tech, are still to be overcome?

We are in a fortunate position where those who worked in tech before us have laid some solid groundwork for women to have prosperous careers; so firstly, I think we should appreciate how far we’ve come. I believe there’s more work to be done to reach gender equity in conversations and decision-making with high ranking professionals. Women are starting to be recognised as equally proficient coders, analysts and developers, yet when it comes to high level decision making, their opinions are usually overlooked. It’s promising to see a shift in behaviour on the intermediate level, but the same shift needs to accelerate on the executive level.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

Women should be given the opportunity to showcase their skills and share their stories. As a result of ongoing inequality and feeling inferior in the workplace, many of us have become accustomed to keeping to ourselves with our head low, which means fewer female role models whose career paths we can use as a guide. Companies should encourage their women workforce to take part in conferences and panels that will help them broadcast their stories. Sometimes all you need is a meaningful interaction to progress your career so enabling that with  lots of opportunities to open doors is the way forward.

In an ideal world, how would you improve gender diversity in tech?

I believe the change should start very early on at school level. All students, no matter their gender, should be able to view tech as a viable career option. For example, when it comes to  career days or job fairs, organisers should be more selective in who they spotlight, so that all genders are represented, especially in fields that are traditionally linked with specific genders. Parents and guardians should also be encouraged to champion any inclination towards tech in their children no matter their own experiences or hearsay which could be  possibly outdated.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, e.g. podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

I would recommend the WIRED podcast and Techish as everyday listens, plus the Women in Data Science podcast by Stanford University for more in depth analyses. It’s very motivating to have a community of women supporting the same cause around you, so I would also recommend starting with attending roundtable discussions and networking events like the those from Salesforce or IO Associates. I’d also recommend bigger conferences like the WeAreTech Festival. I personally attended BrightonSEO as a speaker last month and found it to be inspiring so that’s definitely recommended too!