'My most exciting student job was starting my own business'

Tolga didn’t wait for graduation to make his first foray into the startup world. The allure of the New also led him to Accenture where he quickly dived into the emerging world of Intelligent Automation.

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‘I had a wide variety of jobs as a student. One of them was working for Wallonia’s Royal Opera House for more than three years, which was a lot of fun! But the most exciting one was starting my own business during my Erasmus semester in Ankara (Turkey). It all started when I met a young Turkish designer, Kubra Kacmaz, who was enjoying some success with producing and selling her own T-shirt designs. Her brand was starting to take off but because she didn’t have a business background she was struggling. I offered to bring my (limited) business knowledge to the table and we officially became partners. We both learned a lot, but eventually decided to end the project and part ways.’

“We offer high quality, customizable and socially responsibly produced clothing”

‘With my new connections in the textile business and as a member of several student associations I decided to start Revolutions Design Wear with my best friend, Milan Debrulle in Belgium. We offer high quality, customizable and socially responsibly produced clothing to groups and organizations that want to “wear their colors with pride”. One of our core target segments is final year high school students (“rhétos” in French), for which we launched the brand Pull-Rheto.be in 2015. We have been lucky to see year-on-year growth and great coverage in the written press (Le Soir, Le Vif, Spirit of Management, Guido, La Meuse, Student.be), on radio (NRJ) and even on TV (RTL TVI)!’

‘My first encounter with Accenture was as a finalist in the 2016 Master Class. Two key elements attracted me. Firstly, I have always been fascinated by both the business and tech world. This also influenced my choice of studies. I think Accenture is uniquely positioned in both, especially when it comes to “the New”. Secondly, as I discovered during the two-day Master Class, the Accenture culture: it is a very open and collaborative workplace. One of our core values is “One global network” and it really feels like this in practice.’

‘Playing sports at a high level during my youth taught me discipline and the importance of focusing on goals if I want to learn and improve. But as a relatively new joiner at Accenture, I’m impressed by the numerous support mechanisms in place to help you achieve your goals: career counselors, buddies, coaching… Plus everyone is always willing to help and give constructive feedback when requested. This truly makes a huge difference when you first start and it made me feel welcome and useful from Day 1.’

“Working in robotics, I encounter new challenges daily and need to think innovatively. This is my biggest driver”

‘Not long after joining Accenture, I got involved in a key initiative in our Luxembourg office: Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Although RPA is slowly becoming more commonplace, it is still a very new technology for most organizations. As a member of Accenture’s Intelligent Automation community, my role involves working with our clients to analyze their needs and define the requirements that will be used to configure robotic processes in their organization. After the robot has been configured, I typically conduct some testing to make sure the result is in line with expectations. It is always very fulfilling to see my analysis work translated into concrete robots! I have also worn the configurator hat on a few occasions, helping the delivery team. Lately, I have increasingly been involved in a team lead role, onboarding new joiners and getting them up to speed within our local RPA community, as well as coordinating the team at the client.’

‘Meanwhile, we are also quite far ahead in more advanced domains such as Artificial Intelligence (AI). It’s not only about “talking the talk”, but actually “walking the walk”. Outside work, I also spend a lot of time following and learning more about technology, strategy and the intersection between both. I’m particularly interested in the cultural, political and economic impact of current and upcoming technologies such as AI or self-driving cars.’

‘What I enjoy most about working at Accenture is always being at the cutting edge: continuously learning and growing, both professionally and personally. Working in robotics, I encounter new challenges daily and need to think innovatively. This is my biggest driver.’

‘Moving to Luxembourg when most of my friends were moving towards Brussels was probably the most difficult choice I’ve had to make so far, but the opportunity to keep learning and always do new things outweighs any doubts I might have!’

Tolga Bayrak (1993)

Studied: Business Engineering with a Master degree in Supply Chain Management and Data Analytics at HEC Liège
Started working at Accenture: 2016
Relationship status: In a relationship
Loves: Going out for brunch with my friends and family
Gets annoyed by: Dealing with the consequences of someone’s lack of attention, i.e. having to repeat the same thing several times because the person is not listening
Favorite food: My #1 dish is always my mother’s gratin dauphinois (potato, cream and cheese gratin). I also enjoy cooking, even after a long day’s work, but I’m only just getting started!
On my nightstand: “The Price of Inequality” by Joseph E. Stiglitz (book), an iPad, plus many phone and laptop chargers
Listens to: A huge number of podcasts: Above & Beyond’s “Group Therapy”, The Verge’s “Vergecast”, Kara Swisher’s “Recode Decode”, NPR’s “Planet Money”, Stephen Dubner’s “Freakonomics Radio”, Bary Ritholtz’s “Masters in Business”, just to name a few (I’m subscribed to over 35 shows, most of which have weekly episodes)
Last purchase: 3 comic books from the Comic Strip Museum in Brussels
Would like to sit next to in the plane: Ben Thomson, author of “Stratechery” and weekly podcaster for “Exponent
Life-changing event(s): My Erasmus exchange at Bilkent University in Ankara, during which I met a lot of great people with whom I am still in touch, and where I kicked off my entrepreneurial life
The best lesson life has taught me: Always see the bright side of things: when things seem tough, think about everything you have instead of what you don’t have. When all is said and done, family, friends and relationships always come out as being the most important
What I learned last week: I’m currently learning more about IT infrastructure and environment design and set-up, especially in the context of large-scale enterprise RPA implementations
Most beautiful place on earth: Oludeniz in Turkey.
Hobbies/passions: Technology & strategy, cooking, learning, playing squash
What nobody knows about me: I launched my own company Revolutions Design Wear as a student and it’s still going strong!
Life motto: Don’t be a know it all, be a learn it all.

Author: Liz Morrison