Caring Smart Citizens

Robotics for Elderly Care - European Robotics Week - 2016 Amsterdam

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” - Albert Einstein

Accident on bike in street

Yesterday evening I had an accident on my bike, on my way home, in the ice cold streets of Amsterdam :( What happened? At the moment of the accident, I was riding my bike, and my mind was somewhere else. I reached my hand from the steering wheel to my pocket for some reason… I lost control, and my bike wheels slipped.. Instantly, I fell down and slipped over the road with my body. Ouch!!!

“There are no accidents… there is only some purpose that we haven’t yet understood.” - Deepak Chopra

Help from people in surrounding

Falling down was like a slow motion movie. My body and mind were in shock of the instant fall and stop. I screamed so loud because my elbow and knee were hurting like crazy. Immediately people gathered around me to help out. One person lifted the bike up off my body from the ground. Another person kneeled down and held my hands. Someone else joined and supported my back and head. They were taking care of me :)

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” - Dalai Lama

Help from medics on the spot and by phone

More people gathered around me, talking to one another. One of them appeared to be a doctor and checked whether I was conscious. In the mean time, someone was calling the emergency number. Someone else living in the street came down with a glass of water and a blanket. The doctor answered the emergency’s questions. They checked if the ambulance was need or if someone could drive me there. A couple with a car said that they would bring me.

“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” - Ronald Reagan

Lucky in unlucky situation

Long story short, I injured my elbow and knee, my skin was damaged and bleeding. The damage could have been much worse. I could have broken my elbow or knee for example. I was lucky in an unlucky situation. “Geluk bij een ongeluk” as the Dutch say :) Not only that, I was pleasantly surprised by the instant caring of people around me. What matters most to me is that you get taken care of by people around you. That people have this feeling of care for others.

“You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.” - Cormac McCarthy

Caring society

This brings me to the topic of smart citizens. For me, smart does not only mean using technology, but mainly a sense of humanity. No matter how technological advanced a society is, if this society has forgotten about humanity, how smart is it? For me, it’s not only about smart citizens, but about caring smart citizens. If we start off with a focus on humanity and then use technology to support our humanity.

“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.” - Mother Teresa


With everything going on everywhere with everyone… All the news and information we are gathering by watching, listening, and reading online and offline.. It is a matter of choice what information you want to open yourself up to. It is also a matter of choice if you want to be critical or thankful. It is possible to be negative, and also to be positive. I choose to be positive and thankful for everything I have and experience. In this way, you can transform any situation into a valuable one! :D

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” - Oprah Winfrey


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#care #healthcare #humanity #inclusiveness #gratitude #thankful #positive #culture #technology #citizens #society #nation #city #caringcitizens #smartcitizens #caringsociety #smartsociety #caringnation #smartnation #caringcity #smartcity

GovTech is my Mission

“Number 26 in Global Top 100 Influencers & Brands List in less than 6 months”

“Nuray, why are you so passionate about GovTech?” This question is becoming more and more relevant in my life and career.


GovTech is short for Government Technology, also referred to as Tech City, Smart City, Tech Nation, or Smart Nation. My latest initiative rated number 26 on the Global Top 100 Influencers & Brands in less than 6 months time! This has overwhelmed me with joy :D And also encouraged me to continue my mission in the Government Technology cosmos. Yes, I said cosmos, instead of universe, world, country, or city ;)

“You have to do, what you dream of doing, even while you’re afraid.” - Arianna Huffington

Education | Academics | Research

As a student in Business Information Systems and Computer Science at the University of Amsterdam, I had the opportunity to experience the academic lifestyle. Towards the end of my Master specialisation Intelligent Sensory Information Systems, I was writing my thesis Multimodal, Affective, and Intelligent Human-Computer Interaction. This research allowed me to join my professor at various IEEE conferences. Reading hundreds of articles and attending dozens of lectures, I was extremely inspired by the potential impact and value of technology. At the same time, I realised that this research was not yet applied in real life. And that specific technology could be adopted smoothly by one culture and easily rejected by another culture. And that implementation of these hard skills also required soft skills. Apparently culture and other aspects play a major role in implementing technology.

“You must do the things you think you cannot do.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

International | Intercultural

Understanding that the successful implementation and adoption of technology required understanding culture and cultural differences, my next goal was to experience this myself. Born and raised in a Western culture in the Netherlands, and exposed to Eastern culture with Turkish parents, already gave me a valuable head start with a multicultural background. I had been context switching from birth :) Now it was time to add another dimension to give a more objective and neutral perspective! During my research, I discovered that Japan was global leader in high tech. At the same time, Japanese culture is highly traditional. I wanted to experience this apparent contradiction in person. Hence, my next destination was Tokyo, where I studied Japanese language and culture at Keio University. That year studying abroad as an exchange student has been a life changing and enriching experience :D

“I learned to always take on things I’d never done before. Growth and comfort do not coexist.” - Ginni Rometty

Private | Business

Understanding that successful implementation of technology was prepared in research and applied in business, I decided to start my professional career in the private sector. As a student I worked as a top talent Extreme Blue intern at IBM, an American B2B tech company. As a young professional, I worked as a Management Trainee IT at KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, a B2B and B2C company. The Air France KLM group consisted of 2 different companies, 2 languages, 2 cultures, 2 approaches, and the same goals. I have also worked for ABN AMRO, a Dutch B2B and B2C company. What I have learned from these experiences is that there are American, Dutch, French, B2B, B2C, tech, airline, and banking cultures. At the start and in the end, it’s about making profit and all the other goals are secondary. I felt that I had a higher purpose in life…

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person." - Mother Teresa

Public | Government

Understanding that I wanted to contribute not only to making profit, but primarily to higher purposes, I decided to continue my professional career in the public sector. In varying roles at various departments and working with many partners in the Netherlands and Europe. I found inspiring challenges at the local government at the City of Amsterdam. What have I learned from these experiences is that there are Dutch, Amsterdam, and government cultures. At the start and in the end, it’s not about making profit and all the other goals are primary. The challenge is that there is a mixture of many goals. And the government has a multitude of products and services for society. Technology has huge potential for improvement for the external products and services, the internal organisation, and the cooperation with other governments, businesses, education, citizens, and society…

“There is no such thing as society: there are individual men and women, and there are families.” - Margaret Thatcher

Global Technology

Experiencing education, academics, and research; private and public; business and government; Amsterdam and Netherlands; Paris and France; Tokyo and Japan; Istanbul and Turkey; technology has the potential to connect everyone, everything, everywhere, every time in every way; technology is global and universal; we are already using technology to communicate, fly or make a payment from one city to another; we can also use technology to have access to clean air, water, sun, energy, and food in a sustainable way on a global scale; we can use technology for sustainable health, education, housing, transportation, you name it… These topics concern all of us and we need to co-operate and co-create by collaborating together using technology in a smart way ;)

"Knowledge is power, but enthusiasm pulls the switch." - Ivern Ball


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FemTech in my DNA

European Robotics Week - Amsterdam 2016

“Nuray, how did you become so passionate about FemTech?” People have asked me this question many times.


FemTech is short for Female Technology, also referred to as Women in Tech or Girls in Tech. I have told this story many times to different people in various countries. Now I will start to share my personal and professional stories with a broader audience on a regular basis. Perhaps you can recognise yourself or be inspired to tell your own story, who knows?

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” - Oprah Winfrey

1st Computer at Age 4

I remember my first encounter with a computer at age 4. This computer was a cash register. And I was playing with this cash register at home. For the people who can still remember, those big bold machines used in super markets. There were no other toys to play with, except for this big piece of hardware in our house. I remember how I excitingly hit the buttons with my fingers, and how I expectingly watch the numbers on the display and the print out on the paper. Making calculations on this machine empowered me for some reason. I felt important and powerful. This was my very first encounter as a little child with a computer and I loved it :D

1st Program at Age 10

And I remember writing my first program at age 10. There was a government program called “Girls in Tech”. This program encouraged girls at schools to participate at extra curricular activities such as programming. This programming workshop was in the evenings after school at the technology museum, which was in the same street I lived in. My parents allowed me to participate since it did not cost any money and it was close to our house. Learning and interacting with this computer using a floppy disk and writing code, watching the neon green letters on the black screen, and seeing the result of the program directly on the screen after hitting Enter… OMG I felt so powerful to be able to create this!

“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.” - Maya Angelou

Exact Sciences at High School

At high school, I enjoyed all subjects. When it was time to make a choice, I decided to choose the exact sciences. Mathematics, Physics, and Biology were my favourite topics. At these classes, I realised I was the only or one of the few girls amongst the boys. Other than just being aware of that it did not effect me or the others. I did get advanced classes from my Mathematics teacher because of my interest. Other than the subjects, the culture at this high school was very different than I was used to. It was a “white elite classical” environment. This was a culture shock and at the same time interesting to learn from this completely new environment.

Computer Science at University

At university, I started with Business Information Systems and after completing a year, I switched to Computer Science. Again, I was the only or one of the few girls amongst the boys. They were more hardcore though, because they loved to program day and night, weekdays and weekends. I did have to balance this all out by partying with my girl friends in the weekends. Again, the culture at this faculty was very different than I was used to. It was a “nerdy male tech” environment. Next to the culture shock, I enjoyed the novelty.

"A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman." — Melinda Gates

Encouragement by Parents

Looking back at my life and how my parents raised me, I can see very clearly that they have always encouraged me in a positive and empowering way. Both my parents and especially my mother have stressed on a daily basis the importance of education. They would always say “school first”, “education is top priority”, and they would walk their talk! My mother did not go to school and has felt pain because of this her whole life. My father was a teacher and knows the value of education. They both made clear that a good education and career was important to be independent of others. In the case of my mother and their culture, she would stress that it is especially important to be independent of men.

Encouragement by Government & Companies

Besides my parents, the government has also encouraged me in a positive and empowering way. The “Girls in Tech” programs throughout my childhood have helped and inspired me. By making these activities free and close to home, it makes them accessible to everyone. No matter from what culture or background, no matter which means you do or don’t have. I felt like I gained tools to participate in society. The importance of these programs and activities and also the locations in the neighbourhood houses have been huge for me. Alongside the government, some companies have also helped me. The “Women in Tech” programs throughout my student years have helped and inspired me what options there are as a career.

“We cannot change what we are not aware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change.” - Sheryl Sandberg

Change & Culture

When I started working full-time as Management Trainee IT, I realised that the IT projects were maybe 80% about tech and 20% about people and culture. Towards the end of my 2 year management traineeship, I realised that the IT projects were maybe 20% about tech and 80% about people and culture. Now, after working 10 years full time for the private and public sector (tech, airline, bank, local government), I realise that it is almost 100% about people and culture. The implementation of technology has to do with change management and cultural management. It is not only the technology which is experienced as powerful, but also the people advocating the use of technology are experienced as powerful. And how about a female person advocating the use of technology? This creates a whole different impact :) To be continued…


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#femtech #girlsintech #womenintech #female #technology #empowerment #diversity #culture #change