CampusWIN Academy Day: Cognitive Flexibility @ Google       


This month we learned about cognitive flexibility. We were hosted by Google’s office in Istanbul. What a day we had! Here is the program:

09:40 - 10:00   Welcome remarks by Bülent Hiçsönmez, Country Director &  Hilmi Aydın, Head of Industry (FMCG) at Google Turkey

10:00 - 10:45  TurkishWIN & BinYaprak team updates

10:45 - 11:00  Break

11:00-12:00    Committee Presentations

12:00-12:30   Lunch & Company Visit

12:30-13:00  Işıl Heves, Head of Consumer Marketing at Google Turkey

13:00-14:30  Cognitive Flexibility Masters Panel with Prof. Dr. Zuhal Baltaş, Co-Founder of Baltaş Group,  İhsan Elgin, Founder of Core Strategy, Eren Çamlıkaya, Chief Product Officer at Yenibiriş

What a warm welcome we had!  Bülent Hiçsönmez, Country Director of Google Turkey welcomed us and gave us insights into the culture of Google. He emphasized the importance of “faster is better” and agility culture in today’s business world. He then shared with us insights about Google’s recruiting process. Hilmi Aydın, Head of Industry (FMCG) at Google Turkey, gave us an overview of new Google products and services. We learned about machine learning, deep learning, and artificial intelligence- and the difference in between.  Well, it is safe to say that congitive flexibility is a desired trait of Googlers or Googler wannabees!

Our committee presentations followed. Our teams updated us. We learned from TurkishWIN and BinYaprak teams what dreams and projects are simmering in the background. It was wonderful to connect with fellow CampusWINNers over lunch. Next, we had the company tour of Google. Sorry, we were not allowed to take pictures to share. It is a super cool office- that’s the only thing we can share.

We had the eye on the prize. The cognitive flexibility masters panel blew us away. Prof. Dr. Zuhal Baltaş gave us a lecture on how our brain works and how we can get rid of our current blue print to open new channels in our brain.  She is a psychologist by training and an educator. Prof. Dr. Zuhal Baltaş shared that one should have a control system of the relationship of her idea- emotion- behavior triangle. Only then can we fully understand ourselves.  She constantly reminded us that we should explore and discover our dark side to be able to fully understand our triangle. We were in awe of her insights and took away tips to work up our cognitive flexibility muscle.

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İhsan Elgin emphasized the importance and the benefit of flexing our point of view. If one works hard without this flexibility, he/she loses this rich lens. He shared with us his tips:

  • He watches a TED Talk in topics not relevant to his work- every day before going to bed
  • He tries to solve problems in industries or areas not related to his work giving his 100%.
  • He listens to complex problems of his friends or colleagues and gives a go to solve them.
  • He tackles a business problem by undoing assumptions. What if is his golden question.

Eren Çamlıkaya described cognitive flexibility as a way of adapting to changing conditions. He mentioned that he learns about different sectors so that he can connect information in bits and pieces. According to Eren, knowledge is the new trend.

What were the common inferences from our masters panel:

  • We cannot be cognitively flexible if we are in our comfort zone. Our comfort zone makes us lazy to think about new forms or to gather new information. Will shall leave our comfort zone!
  • Exercise away. Summarizing skill is super important and serves to build our cognitive flexibility muscle. Meaningful summarization is a measurement of cognitive competence. Zuhal Baltaş recommends the following practice: write a summary about a movie you watched yesterday to push your brain and to improve remembrance skills.
  • Daily, when we are trying to solve a problem, we should focus on ideas and not people. This will help us connect information faster.

We thank our masters for sharing and answering our questions. Google Turkey, thank you for hosting us.

Our next  CampusWIN Academy Day topic is Negotiation to be explored at Unilever. Stay tuned!  

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