“Professionalism is individual,” – Sibel Ilkaya about consulting business and succeeding in it as a woman

Sibel Ilkaya

Our conversation with Sibel Ilkaya was planned for over two months ago, but something constantly interrupted our plans. Finally, we had an opportunity to talk a month ago, and since then, this interview unjustifiably remained in my drafts. Now, I can eventually share Sibel’s breathtaking and inspiring story, her views, and why the consulting business needs renovations. 

Sibel was always a part of something bigger. She was born in a family with five children, where she was almost the youngest. Her two older brothers always intimidated the girl because she couldn’t be as strong, successful, or knowing math/physics as them. Such treatment and high expectations worried little Sibel about her life path. “I was a versatile and very empathetic kid; I loved nature, sustainability, and justice,” shares Ilkaya. 

Due to family circumstances, Ilkaya household moved, making Sibel enter preschool earlier. “I did not realize it was so soon. As I was tall at age 5, I had a sense of belonging with my classmates,” Sibel comments on her early school entry. She graduated from school at 17 and enrolled in college to study industrial engineering. The girl justified the subject choice by combining math and physics with social sciences such as business and environmental protection. Due to constant self-pressure and anxiety, she also opted for a degree that would provide numerous career opportunities. However, Sibel genuinely loved engineering and sustainability, “I felt in between two worlds, which empowered me and made me matter.” 

Besides studying, Ilkaya was an active and aware citizen. She participated in Green Peace’s volunteering programs and had environmental planning and construction internships. However, the girl didn’t feel the impact of her actions. Sibel wanted to contribute to positive changes on a larger scale. This was a moment when she discovered Asset Management, “Our life quality depends on Asset Management, especially in infrastructure.” Ilkaya shared an eye-opening thought with me, “You can tell a country’s life quality based on infrastructure because if wealthier people also take buses, imagine how convenient and safe they are.” Graduation from college was a life-changing and definitely anxious moment in Sibel’s life because it happened during pandemics and global panic. As she was engaged in infrastructure, the girl even wrote her bachelor’s thesis on desalination plants, evaluating how sustainable and eco-friendly they are. 

The first workplace is always an intriguing and remarkable event in each person’s life. And meliorate was Ilkaya’s first workplace, impacting her life views significantly. Her college mate graduated earlier and also worked for meliorate, engaging Sibel to give the company a try. Half a year in a company taught her various lessons. Firstly, it is never a shame to doubt your life choices because a human being is allowed to make mistakes. We are living our first life; how can we make everything flawlessly? Secondly, work doesn’t equal an individual’s life, “Work is just an instrument to achieve your life goal.”  

Working in consulting business is a stressful but promising career that changes a person’s lifestyle. Sibel believes that rules in this business are outdated, making numerous gifted workers quit. However, she enjoys the bigger picture behind it – each project changes the world positively. “Sustainability exploration is my life goal, so I fulfill every time I know we contributed to it,” claims Ilkaya. In particular, meliorate encourages employees to develop their skills and provides opportunities to grow personally and professionally. She also enjoys being open with everybody because there are no CEOs; there are colleagues. Still, the work structure doesn’t follow time, in her opinion, “I want to be flexible and independent, working hours convenient not only to clients but to me as well.”  

In her personal life, Sibel is versatile and constantly challenges her own capacities. She sings, swims, and takes yoga classes to explore everything available in the modern world. The girl believes work-life balance is essential for the soul, and she still struggles with it. Ilkaya spends time with her family and friends as her primary mental energy source to escape stress. “I believe that mental health is as important as physical health, although people tend to ignore it,” tells Sibel. 

Sibel’s central message is to stay calm about your professional life path and overcome intimidating obstacles. As a non-German female worker, she faced bias, refusals, and distrust but continued to fight for her goal. “Trust yourself and strive to improve the system that surrounds you into more healthy one,” concludes Ilkaya.

Iryna Nykoriak

Published 10.08.2022


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