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Q&A with Muge Yayıcı

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Muge Yayıcı, Head of Commercial @Vodafone Business

How could you describe your career path in few words?

I hold an engineering degree from Bilkent University where I studied Computer Engineering (1.5 years) and Industrial Engineering (3.5 years) with 100% scholarship. Yet I am barely an engineer, I would call myself highly analytical and commercial driven Marketing Professional. I started my career as a CRM Specialist in a local Oil & Gas company in Turkey. Yet due to regulations and male dominancy in the company, I saw little opportunity for myself to grow, hence after about a year or so, I decided to move on to a new sector where I could create value. This is how my 12-year journey with Vodafone started in which I found myself in a very dynamic, fast-paced, yet progressive environment. In the first half, I worked in Vodafone Turkey in various roles such as Customer Value Management, Product and Pricing in Marketing Department. 6 years ago, I moved to the UK for an exciting career opportunity in Group Vodafone Business where I was responsible for building and monitoring the execution of the commercial strategy for Small Business Customers across Vodafone footprint. Last year, I was promoted to Head of Commercial for EU Cluster, Turkey, and Egypt region in which my main responsibility is to integrate commercial priorities (propositions, channels, customer value management) in the cluster in accordance with my peers in different Vodafone Operating Countries. So far, it has been a ride I am learning, growing, and most importantly enjoying very much.

What was your most challenging experience, and it has changed your mindset?

I am tough, resilient and wouldn’t give-up easily no matter what life brings. Yet, my most challenging experience made me live in despair for a period of time: Becoming a mother for the first time, in a foreign country, right when Covid hit our lives. Being responsible for a little human being 7/24, without any support other than my partner who was also a first-time dad, and in a world of ambiguity had taken its toll on me and I started feeling like a failure. I questioned my decision to become a mother, missed my old life, felt regretful and guilty for feeling like that. And the most difficult part was trying to act like everything was normal, because I kept repeating this to myself: ‘I got this’. Because I was tough, resilient, persistent…But sometimes accepting your vulnerability is the bravest thing you can do. That’s when things started to change for me. I opened up to my partner, family, friends, even to the people I didn’t know in mom forums, Facebook groups etc. And it was like an epiphany to me: ‘I wasn’t alone!’. This was a turning point in my life, though it was painful, I am glad that I got to live this and understood that you don’t need to pretend like you can do anything on your own, sometimes asking for help, being vulnerable is what makes you powerful in the end.

When you get surprised by unusual or uncertain context, what do you think?

First, I start with this question: ‘Do I accept or challenge it?’. I like to challenge the ‘status quo’ and don’t accept the things as they are. But if it is something outside my area of influence, I accept it and try to see the positive side of it. This is not blind ‘Pollyanna’ approach, yet something I have taught myself over years. It saves me time, energy and keeps my sanity 😊 I start with these questions: Is this something I can learn from? Is it going to help me advance both personally and professionally? How can I turn this into something positive? Could this be something I look back and remember with a smile, if so, how do I do this? Not every day is sunny, not everything is smooth and easy in this life. Sometimes it is foggy, sometimes you have bumps in the road. What is important is you have the right equipment to overcome and enjoy this ride. It may sound too cliché but, it is not about where you reach in the end, but the journey itself and how much you enjoy it. Thus, in order to achieve this, I try not to overwhelm myself with the questions like ‘why?’, ‘what if?’ when something uncertain or unusual, yet outside of my area of influence happens, I rather accept and turn it into a joyful journey for myself.

Based on your experience, what’s the key success factor for a female leader / manager?

Female leaders should start with claiming their accomplishments, as unfortunately we women tend to be too modest and reluctant to take credit for personal achievements because of the way we have been raised. Though this may seem polite for the people we work with, it becomes harmful for our careers and turns into an obstacle in the way of advancing. This not only diminishes the work we do, but also the accomplishments of the team members we lead which would demoralize and demotivate them and result in resentment towards us. I am not talking about self-promoting every little thing you do, bragging and acting like the centre of attention. This is about owning your actions and praising it when necessary. Because if you don’t do it, there is a big chance that it will go either unnoticed or owned by someone else. We work hard, put a lot of time and energy into our work, so why hide and expect to be recognized one day ‘as our work will speak for itself’? We must be vocal, get ourselves out there and tell what we accomplished not in a way of bragging but with an effective self-promotion. Because in the end, hard work alone will not move you up. We need to be noticed as a solid performer with strong potential and we don’t have the luxury to wait for this recognition to happen one day magically.

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