“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities” – An interview with Muge Ersoy.
I spoke with Muge Ersoy over Christmas and instantly got chatting about everything diversity – she’s a huge advocate of diversity in tech in general! She moved to London to fulfill her career in software development and after joining Spotify a couple of years ago, she hasn’t looked back! She’s managed to build the most amazing team with people from all over the world, not to mention that almost 50% are female!
If like Muge, you’re on a mission to build a diverse team this year, this interview is definitely worth a read!
HEY MUGE, CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF?
My name is Muge Ersoy and I’m an Engineering Manager at Spotify. My team and I are working on providing delightful experiences to children aged 3-13. We released Spotify Kids last year to some selected countries and we are planning to roll it out to the whole globe this year!
HOW DID YOU FIND YOURSELF IN A CAREER OF SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT AND WHAT FIRST ATTRACTED YOU TO SPOTIFY?
I was always a “solution finder” and had an interest in electronics from a very early age – I was repairing my family’s ovens and TVs when I was just 10 years old! So pretty naturally, I went to technical university to do electronics and information systems and then realised it is actually more fun to write a program that fixes things for people, hence starting my software development career.
The main reason I was attracted to Spotify was their work in diversity and inclusion. I met with a bunch of Spotifiers in 2017 at Women in Tech Amsterdam conference where I was giving a technical talk. After spending some time with those ladies, I knew instantly that I was going to apply for a position in Spotify. Luckily, they decided to open a tech hub in London around the same time, so I applied to one of the positions and got accepted!
I KNOW THAT YOU’RE A BIG ADVOCATE OF DIVERSITY IN TECH IN GENERAL, WHAT DO YOU DO DIFFERENTLY TO ATTRACT A DIVERSE MIX OF PEOPLE TO YOUR TEAM?
I am proactively engaged with meetups and groups who support diversity and inclusion, we also have a local group in Spotify which we use to reach out to people both internally and externally. We believe diversity is a strength, not a weakness, everybody is welcome to Spotify and their differences will be celebrated!
WHAT’S BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?
I always thought I was lucky since I actually love challenges! I think one of the things that I am trying to address is creating a diverse hiring pipeline. I believe if we address the challenges right at the beginning of the recruitment process, we can have better representations at higher ranks across the company. Even though Spotify is doing a really good job, there are still many underrepresented groups which we are working on!
FOR SOMEONE TRYING TO BUILD A DIVERSE TEAM, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE?
It is really important to understand the underlying problems for diverse hiring and the most important thing for me is building a strong diverse pipeline to increase our chances of hiring those people. It is actually simple math, if we have more people who are interested in tech, we will have more applications from that region. You are not nearly done after hiring, you need to invest in those people, keep them happy and healthy, providing growth opportunities to constantly improve them.
WHAT/WHO INSPIRES YOU?
I think there are a lot of lessons and stories waiting for us to be discovered just by observing people, nature and the environment. Reading about successful people’s habits is also very useful. I was extremely lucky to have a very strong woman to be my mom who inspired me with her persistence in life. Yuval Harari’s “Homo sapiens” is now my comfort book – I don’t remember how many times I have read it but it helps me to see the holistic view, rather than focus on the small things in life.
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED?
I’d love to be remembered by the positive changes I have made in people’s lives, pieces of ideas I planted a long time ago, which have resulted with amazing outcomes for others.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING IN YOUR FREE TIME?
I have a good routine of exercises, from early morning swimming to evening running sessions. I love to read and listen to audiobooks – I am a history enthusiast and can read for hours and hours about world history starting from big band. I also have close friends who I love to spend time with.
WHAT’S THE MOST INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT PEOPLE WOULDN’T NORMALLY KNOW?
I am secretly having private pilot lessons. Oh well, it is no secret anymore.
ONE GOAL FOR 2020?
I want to complete my training and get my pilot license, so my commute can be improved
AND FINALLY, WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE?
I really love Stephen Covey’s “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities”. I truly share the same sentiment!
Thank you Muge for sharing your story with us ????.
An interview by Rachel Rickard.
A voice for diversity in tech <3