When I started to redesign my website, I wanted to create something I can identify with and not another portfolio, paying homage to my ego and tell you how great I am, seriously? I’m not, I’m just Ali.
My journey as a designer began back in 2001. I was a kid fascinated by technology, spending tons of hours in front of my computer. Discovering a whole new world, a world I just wanted to participate in, and I had no idea how.
While other kids were playing football outside, I was learning photoshop and coding HTML. Today I think the sweet feeling of creating and giving life to something, did push me to become what I am at the moment.
In 2006, I started making money with my hobby. Building websites for my dad's business partners did result in a very lucrative bonus for my pocket money. Ultimately a local advertising agency recruited me with 18 years, and this is how my journey as a designer began.
A few years later I was working as a junior art director for an agency with a focus on ethnic marketing. During this period, I was given many opportunities to become part of projects with international brands. This might sound exciting in the first place, but working with offline media was never something I wanted to do. Plus, as if that weren't bad enough, my former boss was sincerely convinced that smartphones were just a hype…
This made it easier for me to make the decision to work for myself. Unfortunately, I don't have any formal design education and am not allowed to work as a freelancer. Therefore, my only option was to jump into the cold water and start my own company. Today I think this was one of the best decisions I’ve ever taken. With zero knowledge about how to manage a company and how to acquire projects, I just kept doing what I was doing from the beginning on – learning by doing, failing, taking lessons of my failures and try harder.
Let's fast forward to one year after I started my own company, I was given the opportunity to work abroad for brands like Acer, Vaillant, and Avon. As you can imagine, I booked the very next flight and left Germany literally overnight. After being abroad for 6 months, I was about to get on my way home when I got offered a job as a creative director at Happy Digital in Istanbul. So began one of the most inspiring periods of my life. The environment of mixed cultures in Istanbul was something I had never experienced before.
I remember it as it was yesterday. The iPhone 5s was about to launch, but Turkey was not on the list of countries that would receive the first party of devices. To build one of the first apps on the market which was using the M7 motion coprocessor, our tech team flew over to Georgia and bought an iPhone 5s. This is how we began building Adim Sayar, Turkeys first and worlds second step counting iOS app. You may think that there is nothing special about this. But it was not about the app or the new iPhone, it was about the approach itself. Taking a decision and rushing to the goal with everything you got, made me feel like: “We can achieve anything we want and the only limit we have, is the limit we set ourselves.“
During my time at Happy-Digital, I committed myself to countless projects. Hard times made me learn to be rational with my work, to cut off the finger in order to rescue the arm. After a while, this approach really took a toll on me emotionally. I’ve spent a while to discover the loss of emotionality in my work and ended up with the conclusion, that each project I’ve worked on had one common purpose:
“Make people buy 💩
they don’t need.“
For a long period, I did not give in to my desire to work on more meaningful projects. I wanted to create products which would add value to the life of the user. Ultimately, I decided to quit my job at Happy-Digital and go my own path again.
From February 2017 till November 2018, I was working at voya, a new generation business travel start-up in Hamburg, Germany.
The primary service of voya is a hybrid artificial intelligence system which allows business travelers to find the best fitting travel options. Dependent on company guidelines, user preferences, loyalty programs and past trips the system is suggesting travel options on demand.
Besides improving and digitalizing the experience of business travel I had finally started building products for humans to use them in their daily life and add value to their entities.
In the summer of 2018, I was offered to serve for Your Majesty in Amsterdam. It was an amazing opportunity to work on Driver a cancer research platform which was supposed to fix the problems of cancer treatment. I was just overwhelmed by emotions, in my opinion, this is the maximum amount of impact, you can have as a designer in humans lives. And secondly, I got the chance to move together with my girlfriend who was living in The Hague. Unfortunately, things developed differently than expected and Driver went bankrupt. After that, I was given the opportunity to leave whenever I want, if I prefer to work within product teams.
In February of 2019, we decided to divide our paths. I am very happy to have been part of this excellent group of people and have made friends with them.
“If one door closes another one opens! “
Simultaneously to these happenings TripActions started their office in Amsterdam and were looking for a Product Designer. That was the ultimate chance for me to follow up on my previous work at voya. In February 2019 I did join TripActions to grow and build their design operations in Europe.
For almost 4 years, I've managed to scale an entire design org in Amsterdam from scratch and establish design processes, career ladders, and design philosophy. Even though it was a hell of a rollercoaster with TripActions, I'm grateful for every opportunity I got there. I tremendously grew as a person, a designer, and a leader. Unfortunately, like everything in life, my lifecycle at TripActions has ended. It was a decision I made with a heavy heart leaving all the extraordinarily talented and kind people behind I've met along the journey. Nonetheless, it's time to move on when it's the scariest to jump.
For what comes next, I am curious myself.
After 15 years of many tries and fails, I believe that I haven't discovered even a fraction of the things that I wanted to learn. Even though I know that I'll never achieve that goal, it is my way of striving for perfection. Never to be afraid of asking questions until you get the right answers. I guess that's it for now, thank you for having me and just reach me out if you want to chat, exchange ideas, collaborate or anything else.