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Diversity is creativity

Gülsen Sahin became fascinated by the endless possibilities of IT when she discovered how it was used in the laboratory. From then on, she decided to take a different career path and became a cybersecurity specialist at Orange Cyberdefense. 

How did you get into IT? 

I followed a laboratory study and during my internships, I discovered how big the role of automation and IT already was in the lab. Manual analyses were automated, and data analyses were performed by programming. That made me curious. Then I met a Bioinformatician, someone who uses computer science to solve biological and genetic problems. In essence, what I did in the lab, he did behind the computer. I liked the combination of science and IT which is why I first started studying Bio-Informatics. I really liked being able to program, but I missed the business side of IT. So, I then studied Business IT & Management. With this step, I have left my laboratory background behind. Also, because once I understood automation, I realized that I could become replaceable in the lab.

Did you meet many other women during your studies?

There were slightly more women than I expected on the Bio-Informatics training. On the Business IT & Management training, however, I was almost alone. It was less about hardcore programming, as the training focuses more on 'the bridge' between Business and IT and requires more social and communication skills, so that was quite striking.

What are you doing now?

In addition to my studies, I also worked in Sales and IT recruitment. I graduated in cybersecurity and wanted to combine my commercial background with business and cybersecurity. I am ambitious; personal development and growth are very important to me. What I am striving for is well known in my immediate environment, that's how I heard about the company Orange Cyberdefense. After graduating, I immediately got in touch. It was a perfect match with my ambitions, and we clicked immediately. As an Associate Solutions Architect, I translate the business objectives and challenges of companies into a functional and technical security architecture.

What are your ambitions for the future?

I am learning a lot here. I am now mainly focused on becoming a good Solutions Architect, but also an expert in different domains of cybersecurity. I would like to grow within this role and eventually develop into an Enterprise Architect and then a Lead. There is a nice growth path for this me within Orange Cyberdefense.

Do you encounter more women in the workplace than during your studies?

The diversity within Orange Cyberdefense is quite present. Not only in terms of gender but also in different cultures and languages. I think that is a great added value for a company, but also for your personal development. Diversity is creativity. Where different backgrounds and experiences come together, innovation takes place. I experience diversity as a success factor of an IT company.

What would you like to pass on to women in IT?

The IT sector is very broad and diverse and offers plenty of opportunities. You must find out exactly what you want to achieve and what makes you happy. Try out different courses, engage in sparring sessions with professionals in different IT domains, and know that in addition to the technical knowledge - which you can learn if you don't already have it - business and management skills are also very important. IT has much more to offer than just die-hard programming.

This article was first published on the Dutch Women in Tech website.

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