Flight Path Converging Innovation and Automation: Ismihan Anderson’s Leadership in Aviation

Ismihan Anderson
Ismihan Anderson

Aviation leaders with a firm grasp of IT and Automation are the new navigators. They’re the pilots of a digital ecosystem. From air traffic management software to automated boarding, they integrate tech seamlessly. This expertise empowers them to optimize airport operations, ensure passenger comfort and push innovation for a future-proof, data-driven industry.

One extraordinary leader who utilizes IT and Automation for a smooth travel experience is Ismihan Anderson, the IT and Automation Director at ISG—Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport.

Ismihan’s journey from consulting to her current role has been nothing short of an example, with her passion for technology and problem-solving. Beginning her career as a software developer, she swiftly transitioned into consulting, where she honed her skills in understanding and addressing the unique challenges faced by diverse organizations across EMEA, including FTSE100 companies.

Venturing abroad to provide consulting services in the UK, Ismihan expanded her cultural horizons and refined her expertise in delivering top-quality services across borders. Upon returning to Turkiye, she seized the opportunity to establish and lead a team of talented consultants, who further provided exceptional results to clients in the EMEA region.

The acquisition of their group by PwC provided Ismihan with new avenues for growth, allowing her to diversify her skill set and delve into digital transformation consulting. Recognizing the increasing importance of digitalization in businesses, Ismihan specializes in guiding organizations through the digital age.

Today, Ismihan oversees the strategic implementation of technology solutions to drive efficiency, innovation and growth. With her wealth of experience and expertise, Ismihan continues to lead initiatives that harness the power of technology to transform businesses and create value in the aviation industry.

Join in to explore Ismihan Anderson’s journey from consulting to her role as IT and Automation Director and witness how her expertise in technology and business drives efficiency and innovation in the aviation industry!

Turbulence to Transformation

In her consulting journey, Ismihan collaborates with diverse organizations, offering insights to uplift their operations and competitiveness. Yet, she often ponders the lasting impact of her projects. “I’ve always wondered about the long-term execution of recommendations,” she reflects.

Driven by a desire for deeper involvement, Ismihan sets her sights on immersing herself within a single organization, witnessing firsthand the evolution of technology-driven solutions. “I want to see tangible results unfold,” she emphasizes.

The aviation sector emerges as a prime arena for their endeavor, with its intricate combination of stakeholders and operations. Ismihan recognizes airports as hubs of complexity where seamless coordination is paramount. “It’s a fast-paced environment with immediate results,” she notes.

Transitioning into a leadership role within aviation, Ismihan aims to blend her expertise in technology and business strategy to spearhead transformative initiatives. She asserts, “My goal is to drive sustainable growth while enhancing stakeholder satisfaction through cutting-edge solutions.”

Creating Value Through Innovation

Ismihan’s passion lies in solving problems, removing bottlenecks and improving user experience. “Witnessing the tangible impact of my efforts in enhancing operational efficiency and delivering superior user experiences drives me,” she emphasizes.

Motivated by the opportunity to streamline processes and add more value to the organization, Ismihan continuously seeks innovative solutions. By fostering a culture of continuous improvement and excellence, she aims to contribute to the organization’s success and growth.

User-Centric Strategies

In her journey of driving successful business transformations through technology, Ismihan has gained invaluable lessons:

  • Customer-Centric Approach: “Placing the customer experience at the center of every initiative is paramount,” she emphasizes. Understanding preferences and exceeding expectations through data strengthens the brand and drives revenue growth. By delivering products and services that surpass expectations, organizations foster loyalty and stand out in the market.
  • Top-Down Leadership: “The tone set by top management is crucial,” Ismihan notes. Active support, clear direction and leading by example create a culture of innovation and change readiness. Senior leaders’ commitment is vital for overcoming resistance to change and ensuring alignment across all levels.
  • Problem Identification and Solution Orientation: Identifying and addressing organizational pain points is imperative, Ismihan stresses. Solutions must directly target these issues, involving business participation to ensure success and avoid resource wastage.
  • User Experience Focus: Prioritizing user experience is key. Ismihan emphasizes that staff rejection of cumbersome systems hampers transformation success. Focusing on user experience drives efficiency and productivity gains.
  • Prototyping and Iterative Feedback: “Prototyping allows for early user involvement,” Ismihan points out. Iterative feedback ensures adjustments meet user expectations, resulting in a better final product.
  • Testing and Failing Culture: Cultivating a testing and failing culture is essential. Encouraging innovation and learning from mistakes drives continuous improvement, leading to more robust outcomes.

Aligning IT Strategies with Business Goals

Ismihan points out that in the realm of executing business strategies alongside IT strategies, several key points emerge:

  • Alignment with Business Goals: The initial step involves closely aligning IT strategies with broader business strategies. Understanding key objectives like delivering a seamless passenger experience and identifying how technology can support these goals is essential. For instance, implementing technologies like passenger tracking systems can optimize queues to enhance the passenger experience.
  • Continuous Evaluation and Adjustment: Regular evaluation and adjustment of IT strategies are crucial to staying aligned with evolving business priorities. Collaboration between IT and business stakeholders ensures initiatives adapt to changing requirements. For example, with the opening of a new runway leading to increased flights, IT strategies prioritize efficient passenger processing.
  • Prioritization of Automation & AI: Automation streamlines tasks, reduces errors and enhances operational efficiency. Leveraging Automation & AI in areas like baggage handling and passenger check-in improves the overall passenger experience. For instance, self-service baggage drop systems expedite check-in processes, enhancing satisfaction.
  • Data-driven Decision-making: Data analytics provide insights into passenger behavior and operational efficiency, informing decision-making. Their approach enables proactive adjustments to IT strategies, better supporting business objectives.
  • Collaboration and Communication: Regular communication between IT and business stakeholders is vital. Collaboration ensures alignment and that IT projects deliver value in line with business expectations. Meetings, workshops and cross-functional teams facilitate ther alignment.

By adhering to these principles, airports can effectively execute business strategies through IT initiatives, driving operational efficiency and enhancing passenger satisfaction.

Adapting to Change

In her extensive IT operations experience spanning the retail and aviation sectors, Ismihan has encountered diverse challenges, each demanding innovative solutions and strategic approaches:

  • Navigating Organizational Change: Overcoming resistance to change due to insufficient senior management support requires fostering a culture of transparency and collaboration. By involving employees early on and articulating the value of proposed changes, Ismihan mitigates resistance and garners support. Proactively addressing resource constraints ensures effective implementation.
  • Dynamic Nature of Airport Operations: Managing the intricacies of airport operations demands meticulous planning and execution. Ismihan engages business users actively, gaining valuable insights into their needs. Prioritizing user experience in IT solutions design enhances operational efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Adapting to Retail Industry Trends: Rapidly evolving consumer preferences pose a challenge in the retail industry. Ismihan focuses on building scalable IT infrastructure and leveraging data analytics to inform decision-making. Their approach facilitates the deployment of new technologies and strategic initiatives aimed at enhancing the customer experience and driving revenue growth.

By addressing these challenges with strategic foresight and collaborative approaches, Ismihan ensures successful outcomes and adds value to organizations in both sectors.

Empowering Teams Through Collaboration

Fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration within a team is paramount for driving success. Here are strategies Ismihan employs to cultivate such a culture:

  • Lead by Example: “Modeling an innovative mindset and displaying openness to collaboration,” Ismihan notes, encourages team members to contribute their ideas and solutions.
  • Encourage Open Communication: Ismihan promotes an environment where team members feel comfortable sharing thoughts and ideas. Regular feedback sessions and brainstorming opportunities facilitate open communication.
  • Provide Resources and Support: Empowering team members with necessary resources and support is vital. Ismihan ensures access to training, a budget for experimentation and time for research ensuring fostering innovation.
  • Embrace a Growth Mindset: Ismihan encourages viewing challenges as opportunities for growth. Embracing failures as learning experiences and promoting experimentation fuels innovation.
  • Recognize and Reward Innovation: Celebrating innovative thinking reinforces its importance. Ismihan emphasizes recognition through formal programs and public acknowledgment of successes.
  • Set Clear Goals and Expectations: Clear goals and expectations align efforts with the overall vision. Ismihan ensures that team goals prioritize innovation and collaboration, guiding their work effectively.

Transformative Leadership

Describing her leadership style as transformational, Ismihan embodies characteristics of collaboration, positivity, discipline, results orientation, and continuous improvement. “The collaborative approach encourages open communication, teamwork and the exchange of ideas,” she explains, fostering creativity and problem-solving.

“Positivity and optimism serve to motivate and energize the team,” Ismihan notes. Remaining disciplined and focused on results ensures efficient goal achievement, driving performance and success.

“Always seeking improvement,” Ismihan emphasizes, signifies her proactive stance in enhancing processes and driving innovation. She provides support and guidance to overcome obstacles, empowering team members to excel.

Ismihan’s transformational leadership style cultivates a culture of collaboration, positivity and continuous improvement, contributing to team and organizational success. Empowered and motivated team members drive performance, innovation and ultimately, organizational success.

Tech Transformation Tactics

Remaining updated with the latest technology and automation advancements is crucial for personal and team development. Ismihan emphasizes several strategies to achieve:

  • Continuous Learning: “We dedicate time to regularly consume industry publications, attend webinars and participate in relevant workshops and conferences,” Ismihan states.
  • Professional Networking: Building a strong network of professionals and engaging in discussions, industry events and online forums fosters knowledge exchange.
  • Cross-Functional Training: Ismihan encourages team members to expand their skill sets through cross-functional training, promoting collaboration and a broad understanding of different technologies.
  • Experimentation and Prototyping: Ismihan allocates resources for exploring new technologies through small-scale projects and prototyping, ensuring hands-on experience and staying abreast of emerging trends.
  • Vendor and Partner Relationships: Staying connected with technology vendors and industry partners through events, beta programs and dialogue provides insights into upcoming advancements and trends.
  • Agile Methodologies: Adopting agile methodologies like Scrum or Kanban promotes flexibility, adaptability and rapid iteration ensuring the team can quickly respond to changing requirements and technological advancements.
  • Mentorship and Coaching: Mentorship within the team accelerates the learning process, fostering a culture of continuous learning and growth. Experienced team members share knowledge and expertise with junior colleagues enhancing overall development.

Inspire and Lead

Offering advice to aspiring leaders who are looking to make an impact in the field of IT and automation, particularly within the aviation sector, Ismihan suggests:

  • See the Big Picture: “Strive to understand the broader context and challenges within the aviation sector,” Ismihan advises. Identifying opportunities for innovation and improvement can have a significant impact on the industry.
  • Spot Problems and Find Solutions: Ismihan recommends being proactive in identifying issues and working collaboratively with stakeholders to develop effective solutions.
  • Communication is Key: Effective communication is essential. Ismihan emphasizes active listening and clear communication of vision and objectives.
  • Manage Change: Ismihan stresses the importance of managing change effectively by involving and empowering team members and addressing concerns.
  • Coach, Guide and Handhold: Providing support and guidance during periods of change is crucial. Ismihan encourages being a source of inspiration and offering the necessary support.
  • Always Smile: Ismihan advises maintaining a positive attitude. A positive outlook can inspire and motivate the team, even in challenging situations.