By Tolga Sobaci and Frances Brennan
When Aylin Yengin joined IFC's Istanbul office as an Administrative Client Support (ACS) staff ten years ago, she expected a steady career path with few surprises. After all, her job scope and responsibilities were clearly defined. However, recognizing that there were additional professional fulfillment opportunities to be had, she decided to venture outside her official job description.
Over the years, Yengin has jumped at many chances for what she calls "extra-curricular" activities at IFC: becoming a Footprint Initiative Champion and making the Istanbul office a lot greener; acting as the office's Diversity & Inclusion representative; and helping transform the staff emergency call tree into an up-to-date, user-friendly system.
"I just wanted my work to be more interesting and diverse," Yengin says. "While taking on new responsibilities and making my days at work more exciting, I wasn't necessarily thinking about my career."
But others were. Yengin showed so much initiative and creativity that her supervisor encouraged her to apply for another job. Now, she's a Staff Traveler and Accounting Coordinator, providing support to staff before and during business trips.
Aylin Yengin and a colleague preparing goods for a cake sale. © IFC
"If you really want to break the glass ceiling at your role, especially as an administrative support, you have to keep yourself open to new opportunities and get out of your comfort zone," Yengin says.
Yengin left her job in the airline industry and joined IFC in 2011. She was quickly appointed supervisor to oversee about 12 administrative staff and soon took on her first "extra-curricular" role: Footprint Champion.
As one of the four Istanbul-office champions in the World Bank Group's formal effort to reduce its office-based carbon footprint, Yengin took the lead and organized various events and campaigns to reduce water and electricity consumption, and mobilized staff to plant trees and clean up trash on the beaches in Istanbul. Capitalizing on her supervisory role, she combined team-building activities with the office's Footprint activities to increase awareness and staff participation.
While working on the Footprint activities, Yengin forged relationships with leading NGOs in Turkey whose various missions support disabled people, infants and children with cancer, and students with limited resources. She organized cake sales, brown bag lunches, and lottery drawings to raise funds for these NGOs.
Yengin used these relationships to help the Istanbul office raise $60,000 for Istanbul-based NGOs.
IFC Istanbul Staff in 2019 donating their 8th battery operated wheelchair to the Spinal Cord Paralytics Association of Turkey (TOFD). © IFC
Four years ago, Yengin also became the office's Diversity and Inclusion representative and now works to ensure diversity in the Istanbul office.
"Extra-curricular activities are full of surprises," she says. "As long as you are involved in such projects, your job can never be boring."
Yengin believes her extracurricular activities have been critical to her professional development, providing her with new skills and a network that helped her make a lane-change. Each role she has taken on allowed her to interact closely with colleagues from other departments and demonstrate her approach to and enthusiasm for contributing to the World Bank Group's mission in any way she can. Consequently, her managers recognized that she could be a valuable team member in other professional roles as well.
"Our organization offers plenty of opportunities to help you develop yourself and build a career path if you are willing to go the extra mile,” she says. “All you need to do is to grab one."
Published in May 2021