Gülcan Yayla, MBA/MSW ’17, grew up in a community in central Anatolia where girls and women had few educational opportunities. She was determined, at an early age, to change this dynamic for herself and her older sisters by convincing her father to continue their education into high school. 

Today, Yayla is co-founder and CEO of Patika.dev, which helps companies hire tech talent in cohorts through tailor-designed classes.

“We are building a dream where any driven person can go straight from education to employment,” Yayla said of Patika.dev, launched in 2021. “We work with companies to help them create their own kinds of schools to find and train new talent and provide employment opportunities to those people. The good news for us is that right now every company is a tech company or has tech needs. They have a lot of positions to fill.” 

Yayla attended Washington University as an alumna of Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey, a McDonnell International Scholars Academy partnering institution. Upon graduating in 2011 with an engineering degree, she worked in strategic planning and business development at Eczacıbaşı Holding in Istanbul, and during her time there, co-founded the largest civil society organization in Turkey. Called Vote and Beyond, the initiative became a nonpartisan platform for civilians to monitor governmental elections. Today the organization serves more than a million members and remains critical for people to participate in elections.

In 2016, an entrepreneurial spirit also led Yayla to co-found Kodluyoruz, an award-winning, first tech-focused youth workforce development organization in Turkey.

While attending Washington University, Yayla contributed to its entrepreneurial culture and developed effective initiatives for local St. Louis communities as well. Upon graduation, she worked for the Malala Fund and the World Bank Group.

I’m often amazed to see how some obvious solutions are ignored just because we are so used to the status quo.

Gülcan Yayla

The founding of Patika.dev brings Yayla’s impressive experiences to the fore of, in her words, “solving the large-scale skills gap and unemployment problems affecting millions of people around the world.”

Yayla was honored with the Mark S. Wrighton Award for McDonnell Academy Alumni in 2022. The award recognizes an alumnus having a significant impact on their communities or professional career, based directly on their experience in the program.

Gülcan Yayla, MBA/MSW’17, spoke with Laura Benoist, director of the McDonnell Academy, about her experience as a McDonnell Scholar and Washington University alum. Yayla also shared her insights on how current scholars can prepare for impactful careers as global leaders.