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Becoming a Software Engineering Role Model: The Inspirational Journey of Alev Yildirim

Wed 14 Feb 2024

Ahead of Cloud Expo Europe at ExCeL London on 6-7 March, Techerati spoke with Alev Yildirim, an inspiring software engineering leader who has worked for General Electric, Meta, and Google.

In this interview, she reflects on three significant years that have profoundly shaped her life and career, offering a narrative that transcends geographical and cultural boundaries to inspire innovation and inclusivity in the tech world.

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A Defining Moment in High School

Alev’s journey begins in 2002, in a small town in Ankara, Turkey, where a young Alev witnessed a classmate’s decision to leave school for marriage.

This event, not uncommon in her community, sparked a determination in Yildirim to challenge societal expectations and pursue a path less traveled.

“It became a pivotal moment for me to pursue what was difficult or sometimes uncommon or unpopular, and hopefully be a role model for people,” said Alev.

Her family’s unwavering support for education fuelled her ambition and resilience, setting the stage for a journey marked by breaking barriers and setting new standards.

Championing Diversity and Inclusion

Yildirim’s professional narrative took a significant turn in 2015 when she joined General Electric, marking her first foray into the global corporate landscape.

This experience was transformative, exposing her to greater diversity and inclusion, psychological safety, and internal mobility. Working with colleagues from diverse cultures and backgrounds, Yildirim realised the immense value of diverse perspectives in enriching both personal growth and professional development.

“It grew me as an individual and as a professional,” she remarked, highlighting the importance of embracing different viewpoints and fostering an inclusive environment.

The COVID-19 Pandemic: A Catalyst for Change

The global crisis of 2020, brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, served as a period of introspection and reassessment for many, including Alev. The lockdowns and shift to remote work provided her with the opportunity to reevaluate her priorities and career trajectory.

This period of reflection ultimately led to a significant life change, as Yildirim decided to relocate to London, embracing a new role that aligned with her passion for diversity, inclusion, and engineering leadership.

“That was the last significant year that I can talk about,” she stated, underscoring the impact of the pandemic in catalysing personal and professional growth.

Hybrid Work and Continuous Learning

In the post-pandemic world, Yildirim has embraced the hybrid working model, balancing the efficiency of remote work with the invaluable interactions of in-person collaboration.

This approach has allowed her to optimise productivity, dedicating focused time for individual tasks at home while leveraging the office environment for teamwork and social engagement.

Furthermore, Yildirim emphasises the importance of mentorship and allyship in fostering growth, advocating for finding trusted advisors to navigate challenges and unlock potential.

As Yildirim looks forward to her participation in Cloud Expo Europe, she remains committed to lifelong learning and sharing her experiences to inspire others. Her journey from a small town in Ankara to a leadership role in London embodies the transformative power of technology, diversity, and determination.

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