The first time Zeynep came to Finland was in the summer of 1993, for a traineeship. Back then, she was studying Electronics Engineering at Bosphorus University in her home country, Turkey. But soon after graduation, her increased interest in pulp and paper technology led to another journey to Finland. A permanent one, despite a few noticeable bumps in the road.
– My way to Finland was through studies. I wanted to further study and gain knowledge about the paper and pulp industry which of course is quite broad over here.
From Helsinki to Tampere to Turkey, and back again
In 1996, Zeynep started her first Master’s degree in System Control Engineering at Helsinki University of Technology. Simultaneously with writing her thesis, Zeynep began working at Valmet Automation as a Quality Engineer. Relocating to Tampere was a natural choice and the right setting to begin a family life.
– Tampere is a beautiful, easy to live, all-in-one city. I used to take long walks in its forests, and the deep green colour, the breeze through the trees and the sound of silence gave me peace of mind and serenity. Finnish nature is what I like the most.
On a personal note, Zeynep met her husband, got married and gave birth to two wonderful boys. Later on, she traded her working position at Valmet for one at Nokia Networks. Her career was quickly advancing and her path was shaping up.
– Nokia transferred me to one of their offices in Turkey (2005). We moved to my home country and lived there for seven years, until I obtained a work contract in Finland. My husband got his job back at Valmet so we agreed on returning to Tampere. I felt privileged to gain a wealthy, international experience from Nokia Networks in truly cross-functional roles.
When everything else seems to fall apart, studying is empowering
Seeing one of her sons diagnosed with a brain haemorrhage and her marriage falling apart at the same time, Zeynep had to pull a great amount of strength to make it through those difficult times.
– I started questioning myself why I came to this point in my life, and I looked for answers within. My attention turned to a phrase I say to myself: “Whatever comes ahead, find ways to deal with it, step by step”.
Zeynep’s son underwent a surgery at Tampere University Hospital (Tays) and that turning point in her life grasped a hidden truth.
International alumni in the spotlight
Who: Zeynep Bülbül
Home Country: Turkey
Studies: Master’s in International Project Management
Current position: Lead Program Integrator at GE Healthcare
– Every second mattered. The brain haemorrhage came as a total surprise so going back to Turkey for the operation was not an option at all. I’m grateful that he received immediate help provided by competent doctors in a fully equipped hospital. The day my son was rescued in Tays, I understood why I had to be in Finland.
Amid her son’s recovery, Zeynep discovered her inner student thirsty for studying. She then applied to TAMK’s Master’s degree programme in International Project Management.
– The lecturers were great, they had both work life and academic experience. I have truly enjoyed Mauri Gronroos’s Change Management and Matti Karlsson’s Project Management courses, as well as Paivi Mayor’s Leading People and Petteri Vilen’s Accounting and Finance.
Zeynep wasn’t conditioned to take any spring courses but she liked them so much she took nearly all of them.
– We thoroughly studied company cases and business life. We made teams and each team came up with a company, established the structure, looked at how we could get financing and develop it from there. The content was planned to be practical and usable in working life.
I learn new things by building the big picture. Through change and difficult times, we also learn.”
Why is more important than what
Throughout her studies, Zeynep realised she would like to work within the health industry.
– I did a lot of research on healthcare companies and came across GE Healthcare. They’ve been very active in shaping the development of the health industry in Finland and supporting startups. I started working for them as a trainee and nowadays, I’m a Lead Program Integrator, responsible for leading new product introduction and enhancement program for CARESCAPE patient monitoring devices.
TAMK gave Zeynep applicable project management tools, lots of hands-on experience and crucially, a new perspective on work. It came in handy in a global company like GE, which requires the ability to have an overall view of things.
– The study programme helped me take a step back and see everything with new eyes. “Why am I doing this?” is more important than “What am I doing?” It allows me to understand where I am now and where I want to go. My work becomes more meaningful and it’s easier for me to track its progress.
Despite her fragile appearance, Zeynep Bülbül is a woman of great strength and a self-motivated student. She chose not to let hardships define her personal and professional paths and empowered herself through constant studying and learning.
– I like to learn new things and the way I do it is by building the big picture. It brings me a great satisfaction when I can discover the connecting elements and build links between them. This way, I can learn faster and the lessons become of value. I believe that through change and difficult times, we also learn. We develop better coping skills to overcome life’s challenges.
TEXT: ANDRUTA ILIE | PHOTOS: JOEL FORSMAN