Sertaç Yerlikaya is the Director of 42 Istanbul. She gave us a glimpse into her job at 42 Istanbul and how 42 found its place there.
What do you like the most about being the director of 42 Istanbul?
I had a broad experience in consultancy, telecom, manufacturing, and education industries, I provided consultancy for business development and digital transformation roadmaps for small-medium enterprises. I was the director of the executive MBA program where I was also teaching Business 4.0, which is a Digital Transformation Strategy for seniors at the Boğaziçi University… and now, I am at 42 Istanbul to witness the transformation by being a part of this amazing experience! It’s really priceless to be with the students, get inspiration from them, and inspire them. I can see their energy and feel how they are focused on coding and learning to change their life. It is very fulfilling. Besides, companies also like to spend time with our students on campus: it also motivates them!
What is the main difference between 42 and traditional education in Türkiye?
In Türkiye, our educational system is based on multiple-choice exams. To go to a “better” high school and then the university, you must pass a nationwide entrance exam which can be taken once a year, then you are placed in one. So, at the beginning of 42, all our candidates were expecting only the top candidates would get accepted: there was a huge competition and no sharing. Our job was at this time to explain to them that there is room for everyone at 42 if they can pass the required level. Now, our students can share their experiences and it is a lot easier to explain!
Were they the only one surprised by 42?
Even if the students quickly realize that there is really no teacher at 42 and the responsibility to study is on their shoulders, it is still difficult to explain how this works to companies and parents. Our strategy for the companies is to invite them to meet our students through a seminar. All of them are impressed by the enthusiasm of our students, they offer sponsorships or develop projects with the students. Companies began to revise their internship and employment criteria to include 42. One seminar is always enough for changing their mind!
What do you think will happen for education in the future?
In the future, not only will the way we acquire knowledge change, but so will the schools! For the last six or seven years, I have been working on the Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies. I have seen how the institutions, the organizations, the government and education are changing (despite resistance to change). We need to adapt our education programs to the emerging and regularly changing social, economic, and environmental conditions. In that context, it is not necessary anymore to have a diploma to be a software developer. Universal Information and knowledge are available everywhere: if you are curious, you can learn anything. You need to find the energy and desire to be interested, to wonder, to learn by yourself, and most importantly to worry about our common, global problems such as climate change, cyber security, food and water shortage, etc. That’s where education plays a crucial role to train new generations who will deal with the complexities of our age. I believe that as schools increase peer learning in the near future, it will also change the physical and economic models of education. Successful examples such as 42 will foster change and the ecosystem.
What 42 value do you cherish the most?
All the core values of the 42 network are indispensable. I believe resilience and adaptability are the ones that ensure sustainability, as neither the strongest nor the smartest have survived throughout history. Istanbul is one of the most ancient cities in the world. Established nearly 1700 years ago and it has been the capital city of four different empires, namely the Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman empires. Throughout its history, Istanbul has been at the crossroad of different cultures which gives her a unique character, received both European and Asian influence, and is still one of the big metropolitan cities in the world. And fascinates everyone who comes to visit for the first time. As one of 16 million Istanbulites, I find it great to live in this beautiful city. There is not one single center in Istanbul: they are many. Fortunately, 42 Istanbul is located in one of the new technological centers — we say that the heart of coding is 42 Istanbul!