Tuesday, May 02, 2023
What do a financial analyst in the US, a controller in a coffee factory in Italy, a senior commercial finance manager in Switzerland and a European Export Director have in common?
All these professions have one name in common - Ozge Hatiboglu - a woman who has held an incredible 10 positions in 4 different countries in her nearly 16 years at Mondelēz International. She has never been afraid to take on challenges and accept responsibility for her life.
As Ozge herself says: “I was never in favour of locking myself into a long-term career plan. I’ve always preferred looking at opportunities in front of me and went into new things from the beginning knowing that all the experience and knowledge I would gain would contribute to the next step."
It's only for a year...
It all started in her penultimate year at university in her native Turkey, when she decided to go for a year-long experience with AIESEC, a global youth organization, in New Zealand.
She thought, it’s a hard-to-get opportunity, but if I don't apply, I'll never find out. And Ozge has followed that credo, or rule if you will, her whole life.
It's okay to doubt yourself, you don't always know in advance what you might face, what you'll have to fight, but you must have the courage to try and the willingness to work as hard as you can.
If you're lucky and your supervisor is also your mentor
Ozge admits that she would not be where she is today without the support and guidance of her managers at MDLZ. Their belief in her capabilities and her potential to succeed have enabled many of the unique opportunities throughout her career. She has been motivated to succeed and invest in her growth with various experiences, but also considers herself lucky to have had the right mentors at the right time in her career. In hindsight, she admits that she never could have imagined how incredible her diverse experiences could be and how integral they have been to her career journey thus far.
Through her experiences, Ozge has learned to always approach new opportunities or responsibilities with an open mind and to humbly accept all the challenges she has faced as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Indeed, it was because of this openness and willingness to trust the opinion of her managers-mentors as well as willingness to step out of the comfort zone that she agreed to go to Switzerland, Italy, Slovakia...
Do you really think I'm up for that?
Sometimes she would ask her superiors in disbelief: do you think I have what it takes to do that job?
And, as Ozge humorously says, well, in the end, it always turns out I can do it! At the same time, she adds that the most important thing she has taken away for life, and what she would like to pass on to her younger colleagues, is that they should know that doubts about their abilities and knowledge, and frustration at initial failure, are okay. But fears and insecurities must not prevent a person from trying, working to their full potential, and giving their best. There is no real failure when you step into a bigger challenge; you only grow!
You have their trust, so start with trusting yourself
Ozge admits that as her years in the company progressed and the higher positions she held grew, so did her trust in her abilities. She told herself, you're hired for what you've done, for the qualities and strengths you have. She says, of course in every role you must prove yourself. But they believe in your potential and so should you. I don’t know if I’ll succeed or not from the start, but I know that I’ll give my best shot and we take it from there.
Indeed, it was with this knowledge and this "grit" that she overcame the biggest challenge of her life so far: working as a finance controller in a coffee factory in Italy. That is, moving to a completely new position, in a foreign country where she knew no one and did not even speak the local language.
The first months were tough; being the only foreigner in the factory with limitations of the language, trying to understand a complex job, build professional relationships and trust, while also trying to set up a personal life... It was overwhelming to an extent she didn’t anticipate.
But she didn't give up, she told herself, nobody is perfect, and I am willing to learn. And it worked, because people are willing to help when they see that you are working and trying your best.
Three pieces of advice in conclusion
In conclusion, Ozge has three pieces of advice for others. First: you have your career in your own hands, no one else will solve it for you. You must be prepared to step out of your comfort zone and have the willingness to learn. Then wonders can happen.
Second piece of advice: don't rely on others to tell you what to want. You must determine that for yourself. Do the work to know yourself and build a good self-awareness. If you don’t know what you want, a good place to start is knowing what you definitely don't want.
And the third: your boss is your partner in developing yourself, but he/she is not a psychic. Talk to him/her - about how you want to grow, your career aspirations; and be open to get feedback and work on it. You need to be seen and heard to be supported!