top of page
Search
  • Writer's pictureLaura Caicedo

Başak Tuğçe, ML Engineer and co-founder of Marvelous MLOps.

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, Basak emerges as a trailblazer, sharing insights into her journey from Turkey to the Netherlands and her current role as an ML Engineer at Booking.com. Reflecting on challenges like tech migrations and imposter syndrome. Through her Marvelous MLOps blog and mentorship aspirations, Basak embodies the transformative potential of passion and perseverance in shaping the future of tech.


In addition to the written interview below, we had a great chat with Basak, which you can check out in the video below!




Q1) Can you share a bit about your background and your current role?


I have had quite a tech-filled journey so far. I studied Computer Science & Engineering in Turkey, my home country. Initially, I disliked programming, but then I discovered Machine Learning (ML), where I found my passion. This led me to pursue a master's degree in AI, in the Netherlands. So I moved to the Netherlands as a student, completed a master in AI and I began my career as an ML Engineer, which requires a combination of software skills and ML expertise. Initially, my focus was on data science, NLP models. But, via job transitions, I moved towards MLOps. Currently, I am working at Booking.com as ML Engineer in the ML Platform team.


Q2) How did you first become interested in technology, and what led you to your current role?

 

As a child of the 90s, technology was omnipresent during my teenage years,and it was shaping the world.  I think witnessing this rapid evolution of digital devices and software inspired me, and I decided to pursue a degree in computer science at university. That’s how I stepped into this tech world. I had absolutely no clue about what I would do after completing my degree, but I navigated my way forward, discovered my direction as I progressed.



White women, long dark hair, smiling to the camera, wearing a blazer and crossing her arms


Q3) What main challenges have you faced in your career, and how have you overcome them?

 

Keeping your services up to date, using the latest technology is a challenge. In every company I worked for, tech - nontechnical, there is some sort of migration.

It’s either a transitioning from on prem to cloud, or upgrading legacy services to newer ones. And it takes ages, and it is never done 100%. I’m sure many people reading or listening to this will relate to the term “migration”.

Despite knowing the importance of keeping pace with trends, I still think that migration is always a challenge.


On a personal level, dealing with imposter syndrome has been another challenge. It's crucial to emphasise that this struggle isn't exclusive to my gender but is rather a common sentiment within the industry.

The rapid evolution of tools and technologies often leads to feelings of “I’m not enough” and “I am left behind”.

It's easy to have a notion of not being knowledgeable or experienced enough in such a dynamic environment. This challenge underscores the importance of continuous self-improvement. I think it really helps to acknowledge that knowing enough is enough, and it's impossible to master everything.


Q4) Who or what has been the most significant influence or support in your tech journey?


This one is easy, I must attribute my friend and business partner, Maria, as my biggest influence. She was also featured in this channel before. What truly inspires me about Maria is her fearlessness in jumping into opportunities and tackling challenges, not being afraid of dealing with difficulties. 

And she takes initiatives, all the time. That’s how we ended up talking at many conferences and also starting our MLOps blog. She’s been not only a great colleague/friend but also she sets a good example as a woman in the field. With her confidence, I have also become a more confident woman in tech.


Q5) How have you seen diversity and inclusion evolve in the tech industry throughout your career?


Let's be honest, tech can feel like a bit of a boys' club sometimes. And this is something I’m used to since my university years.

What really disappoints me is how little women we have in technical leadership roles.

I'm not sure whether this is a result of women's preferences or simply a statistical fact. I believe that if female engineers/scientists witness more women in leadership roles, it would serve as a powerful motivation for them to become one themselves.


Q6) How do you manage the work-life balance in the tech industry?


I think there is a recipe for a good work and life balance with 3 main ingredients. 1 -  A company who cares about their employees. 2. A job that gives you energy regardless of how many hours you commit 3. Last but not least you have to be a person who knows there is life after work.


Starting with the first ingredient, having a company that genuinely cares about its employees' well-being is a key. Luckily, living in the Netherlands, I've experienced a positive working culture where mental health is prioritised by the companies I've been a part of.


Secondly, finding a job that fuels your energy is important. I may not be a good example by saying this, but I changed jobs every 2 years so far.  If I find myself losing that spark, I'm not afraid to explore new opportunities so that I remain engaged and enthusiastic about my work.

This is definitely not saying that we should switch jobs often, this is just an example,

when I feel like I’m not learning enough, I’m not motivated enough, I seek other options.

Lastly, maintaining a healthy perspective on life outside of work is essential. While it's easy to get caught up in the demands of a 40-hour work week, I remind myself to switch off when the workday ends. I know, achieving this balance isn't always easy, and I'm still learning to master the on-off switch. But I try to recognize this and make an effort to disconnect. For example, going to the gym and working out after a work day, before getting home, is a way to physically switch off. I'm absolutely not thinking about work stuff when I'm running at a speed of 10 miles.


Q7) What skills do you believe are most important in today's tech world?


In today's tech world, we often focus on tech skills like coding and using tools, which are important. But after working for five years, I've realised something else matters just as much: soft skills. These are things like good communication, understanding others, and getting along with people.


In tech companies, they usually care a lot about tech skills when hiring, like if you can code. But sometimes they forget about soft skills, which are just as important. Imagine a team of smart people who can build things but can't work together smoothly. That's not fun!


So, if you are in the tech field, you clearly have tech skills already. But if you also boost your soft skill, it’ll make you unique.

While tech skills help us create cool stuff, soft skills help us work better together. It's not just about what we make, but also how we connect and understand each other.

Q8) Can you share a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career? 

 

One of my proudest achievements is our Marvelous MLOps blog.

We share insightful articles, experiences, and engaging content, fostering a space for both learning and teaching. In fact, the learning aspect is particularly the best part, because managing a blog requires staying up to date with the latest technologies, following experts. With nearly 10,000 followers, I'm genuinely proud of the community we've built and the knowledge exchange that takes place—it's quite fulfilling.


Q9) What are your future goals, and where do you see the tech industry heading in the next few years?


Here is a cliche answer. I’d like to be a role model for other women in tech.  The MLOps field, and tech in general, can still feel male-dominated at times.  I hope to use my experience to mentor and advocate for more women entering the field.  We need diverse perspectives to push the boundaries of what's possible with AI.

Looking at the bigger picture, I see the tech industry moving towards a more democratised space for AI.  MLOps tools are becoming more user-friendly, allowing businesses outside of tech giants to leverage machine learning and create cool AI powered applications.


I also see that AI is more integrated into everyday products. AI-powered toothbrushes, hair dryers, laundry machines—things that you’d never imagine needing AI software for. I am very curious about the future and what other AI-powered products it will bring us.


Q10) What advice would you give to other women considering a career in tech?


Tech can seem complex from the outside, but it's all about continuous learning and building on your skills.

Don't be afraid to jump in – there's a huge community of people willing to help you along the way.

Embrace your unique perspective. Women often bring a different problem-solving approach to the table, which is invaluable in tech.

Don’t try to fit in, try to stand out. 

Whatever culture you have in your working environment, you being yourself will bring value, not being like others.  Your viewpoint is a strength, not a weakness, whether it's focusing on user experience or advocating for people.


Q11) Let's continue the flow... who would you like to read on the Lovelace Series?


Li Yin

132 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Commenti


bottom of page