Gulbin Asci – Women Entrepreneurs #1

Gülbin is the founder of GAB, a project consulting company specialized in infrastructure projects in İzmir, Turkey and she is also my mom! She has raised funds from the government for women entrepreneurs in Turkey (KOSGEB) at the age of 49.

Hello mom, thank you very much for accepting to have this very special first interview which is the start of a series about women entrepreneurs.

Tell me about GAB and your mission with GAB?

Hello, thank you very much for having me as your first guest! Sure, GAB is a project consulting company. We are specialized in infrastructure projects and our clients are mostly municipalities and contractors. Currently we have five people in the team. My vision for GAB is doing the highest quality work I can do, and mainly being useful to my country.

What does success mean to you?

Success to me, is being useful to the community that I am living in.

You are contributing to your community with your project management company. What are the habits or character traits of yours contributed to your success?

Being stubborn. I am not talking about being stubborn because of your ego, there are different types of stubbornness. One should be stubborn on achieving their goals.

Winning the battle that you have with yourself everyday… by doing the things that you should do to achieve something great…not the things you want to do in a fleeting moment just because it feels good.

What were the triggers that pushed you to become an entrepreneur?

I think there are internal and external triggers. First of all, there is this internal desire what triggers someone to become an entrepreneur. I believe that a lot of people actually have this entrepreneurial quality when they are born, children are creative and expressive. But then you learn to suppress it. I always had that drive internally but due to circumstances I had to work as an employee in the government for 20 years. After you work somewhere for a very long time, especially with lots of rules, you develop a learned helplessness. I was feeling trapped and was looking for a life which is more dynamic. So I started my company at the age of 49.

In your opinion, what does it mean to be an entrepreneur?

To me being an entrepreneur means making things better! It doesn’t have to be a groundbreaking idea… There are of course innovators but not all entrepreneurs are innovators. Creating something better than everyone in the market is also entrepreneurship. It is about filling the gaps in a given sector.

In your opinion, what is the most difficult thing about being a woman entrepreneur?

I honestly don’t think that there is an additional difficulty about being a woman entrepreneur. In fact, I think there is even a positive discrimination. I personally benefited a lot from the fund that the government is providing to the women entrepreneurs in Turkey (KOSGEB).

How did you get credibility quickly? How do you fight against “legitimacy doubt”?

If you are building a company without having any work experience, you will probably have problems about credibility regardless of your gender.

I had a lot of problems with credibility at the very beginning of my career. I was one of the few women civil engineers in the government. Men were not listening to me in the meetings or even sometimes not taking me seriously. But as I worked hard and proved myself and gained experience, they started recognizing me.

I would have legitimacy issues, if I started my project management company at the beginning of my career. But I found GAB after 20 years of experience and I have a network of contractors with whom I have been working for a long time. In the end, legitimacy was not a big problem for me.

Is there a woman who inspires you?

All the strong women who are able to stand on their own feet and work for being useful to the society inspire me.

If you would recommend one thing it can be a book/podcast/movie to our readers, what would it be?

I recommend “Self-made” on Netflix, it is a beautiful story of a woman who has worked a lot to rise from her struggles. Watch it to get inspired and to hold on to your dreams!

Thank you mom, last but not least what would be the one message that you would give to an aspiring woman entrepreneur?

Overcome your critical inner voice that tells you “you can’t”. Tell yourself “I can do it” and then work for it.

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