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Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport Celebrates Women in Leadership

Issue 18 - 2023
Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport Celebrates Women in Leadership

As befitting its namesake, Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen (ISG) International Airport continues to shine a light on female leadership and achievements by promoting gender diversity and inclusiveness at its workplace. The airport was named after Sabiha Gökçen, the world’s first  female air force combat pilot who had first flown a fighter plane back in 1937. One of the adopted daughters of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder and the first President of Türkiye,  she continues to be an inspiration to many women within the aviation industry.

Nearly a century has passed since Sabiha Gökçen's impressive feat and while more women hold prominent roles in aviation today, female representation within the industry is still very low especially in leadership and senior management positions at both airlines and airports. It has been reported that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, global data shows that only 3% of airline CEOs were women while 8% and 3% held CFO and COO posts respectively.  

It is both refreshing and commendable that the ratio of women in leadership positions at ISG bucks this trend. The airport, which is part of the Malaysia Airports Group, greatly values the contribution and expertise that women bring to the business. 

Berk Albayrak, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ISG says “Together with its parent group, the airport does not only focus on excellence in airport operations, but puts equal emphasis on diversity, equality and inclusiveness within its workforce.”

ISG is proud to feature its women leaders who hold various critical roles such as finance, human resources, legal, information technology and communications in what is still perceived as a male-dominated space.

It’s time for more female leadership in the Aviation Industry 

Albayrak continues to say that he is proud to helm such a progressive team and advocates more efforts towards breaking the glass ceiling, “ISG should be held up as an example within the industry. 50% of ISG’s management consist of women – this is something to be proud of especially when you compare that only about 10% of top management positions among 500 member airports of ACI EUROPE are held by women.”

United Nations (UN) has included gender equality among its Sustainable Development Goals, as gender equality is “not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world”. While it is important to challenge the male-dominated power structure, men, especially those in decision-making positions, do have a role to play in supporting women, recognising female talent, empowering more women and breaking the walls of gender disparity together. 

Ceyda Şems, HR Director

“I am delighted to be part of such a diverse and dynamic team here at ISG. After several years in the airline industry, I joined ISG as its HR Director. I urge young professionals to go outside of their comfort zone and explore different areas and places to work. Indeed this is how you grow and make a difference or leave a mark.”

Ismihan Baysal Anderson, IT Director

“We have a very supportive senior management team who welcome the valuable insights brought to the table by its female peers. ISG as a whole, is committed to improving gender parity especially in senior roles. Women can play a strong role in airport operations with attention to detail, multitasking and communication competencies in their nature. This is exactly what we have at ISG.”

A seamless airport journey with innovative technology

Through ISG’s continuous efforts in improving its services and technology infrastructure, the airport has won the hearts of consumers and was recognised as a leading brand in the airport category by winning the ‘Most Technological Brand’ award by Tech Brand Türkiye, as well as the ‘Digital Airport of the Year’ by Bluesky Awards 2022. 

Among the latest innovations at ISG is the new chip ID card system that allows Turkish passengers to breeze through their boarding gates. The system ensures a fast and smooth passenger journey without compromising security as all movements are monitored through an image processing system with artificial intelligence. Coupled with the e-passport system, Turkish citizens over the age of 18 with chip-embedded passports can scan their passports at e-passport counters for a fast and easy journey through passport control.

To further enhance the airport guests' experience, ISG has a mobile app that enables passengers to check in their flights, track and view flight status, wayfinding through the airport as well as information about new deals, campaigns and promotions happening at the airport, alongside Türkiye’s first airport loyalty program, ISG Portpal. 

A convenient, time-saving and passenger friendly city airport 

Türkiye’s 2nd largest airport, ISG has emerged stronger from the pandemic and was ranked the 9th busiest airport in Europe for hosting more than 30.8 million passengers in 2022. With a built-up area of 320,000 square meters, ISG is equipped with a vast parking lot, a duty-free area, and numerous check-in counters to ensure a smooth and joyful journey from the curbside to the boarding gate for our valued guests.

Serving one of Europe's most populous cities, Istanbul, ISG takes pride in its connectivity to the city with a population of close to 16 million people via two major highways and a metro line, bridging the distance between Pendik (12 KM), Kadıköy (31 KM), and Taksim(40 KM) 

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