Elcim Sirek

Elcim Sirek, Turkey Country Manager at Sovos manages all Sovos operations within Turkey and is a key player in strengthening the regional strategy for the company.

Having worked for companies such as Oracle and Tech Mahindra, her passion for success and fast growth is what drives her forward.

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

Having achieved a master’s degree in industrial engineering, my career began as a computer engineer and technology specialist. Over time, I soon discovered my potential and ability to create value as business leader, which lead me to the role I’m in today, working as the Turkey Country Manager at Sovos.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Yes, when I was studying at a French college, just before the university’s entry examination took place, I attended an application development class. Essentially, this was when I realised that I wanted to work in the technology space. And so, I built a plan to become one. Another instance that I made a plan was when I had decided to move from the client side of IT to the solution and service provider side of the industry. Whilst working as an IT director and board member at a telecommunications company, I received an offer (that I couldn’t refuse) from Techmahindra. Shortly after, I joined Techmahindra as a Country Manager, where we executed a very successful market entry to Turkish market.

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

Who hasn’t? During my time at university, I was one of only three women in a class of 144 students. Being a minority wasn’t always easy. This challenge followed me into my professional life – there has been a number of occasions where I have been underestimated and overlooked by male colleagues. Hiring managers were mostly opting to work with men, even when my experience and knowledge clearly outranked my competitors. In interviews, I have been asked questions such as “are you planning to have a baby? If so, when?” What’s more, my company even requested a commitment from me that I wouldn’t have a baby for 2 years.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

In the last three companies I’ve worked for (Oracle, Gartner, Techmahindra), I managed to bring exponential, sustainable revenue growth to each of these global technology companies. At each company, we also managed to provide customer advocacy and high satisfaction.

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

I believe that success is a team sport. A major factor in achieving success for me has been having faith in my teams in each management role that I’ve been in, and inspiring them to work with collaboration & motivation. As well as this, I think resilience, focus and hard work are key. In my eyes, a true leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.

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

Professional curiosity and belief in continuous learning are very important. If you want to excel in your career, you need to strive towards becoming the best version of yourself.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Yes, I do largely believe that there are still barriers for success for women in technology today. My advice would be to forget about your gender and focus on being the best in your profession / role. Set yourself a meaningful target and enhance your expertise, knowledge and skills continuously until you achieve it. Don’t take no as an answer – always find an alternative, out of the box, creative path to your goal.

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

Diversity and inclusion is the answer. Companies can invest on their company culture, as Sovos is doing. Give equal opportunity to women and men for each role.

There is currently only 15% of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

I would make governments offer early age education on technology, especially to women in small cities and villages. Computer labs, technology courses, certification programmes, and more! I would also ensure that technology companies are offering more internships to women.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Research resources:

Books:

  • The Age of AI: And Our Human Future
  • Infonomics
  • Digital to the Core

Groups:

  • Wtech platforms