Meet A WINner: Oya Alıcı Günay

OyaGunay Oya Günay, Executive Coach and Strategy Partner


Oya Günay is an Executive Coach and Strategy Partner, working with global leaders and corporate executives since 2010. She helps these individuals discover themselves, interpret global dynamics, learn from best practices, and become more effective and impactful in a connected world.


What do you do for a living? Tell us more about you.

Oya is a certified executive coach of Columbia University’s Advance Level Executive Coaching program in New York. In addition, she has more than 20 years of international business experience, specifically focused in financial services. She has held various executive roles such as Head of Investment Banking Operations (Banque Paribas Turkey), CFO (ABN AMRO Capital Markets Turkey) and Regional Project Coordinator (ABN AMRO Bank UK and Austria). This executive background and international experience have equipped her with a deep understanding of business acumen, strategy development, leadership, team and diversity management, and the challenges, goals, and opportunities of local and global executives in a wide range of settings.  

In addition to her role as an Executive Coach and Strategy Partner, Oya conducts academic research, publish articles and papers, present at international conferences and act as a keynote speaker. In her academic work, she focuses on Diversity, Equality, Empowerment, and Inclusion. Her latest peer-reviewed article titled “Teachers and The Foundations of Intercultural Interactions” was published in the International Review of Education. As a woman who has lived and worked in four different countries (Turkey, UK, US, and Austria), Oya does not only value diversity and inclusion, they are embedded in everything she does.

Oya currently resides in Vienna, Austria. She speaks Turkish, English, and German.

What's the best piece of advice you've received?

When you have a conflict or disagreement with someone, don’t be in rush to give your answer. The time will surely come.  

Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?


One thing you wish you had known earlier in your career

Failing is a great opportunity to learn and improve.

What is the most courageous thing you have ever done?

Stepping outside my comfort zone two times: Moving to London at the age of 35; moving to Austria without speaking any single word of German and changing my career and setting up a new business at the age of 40 in a foreign country. 

If you could have any three people (dead or alive) over for dinner – who would they be?

Angela Merkel and Olivia Colman for sure, Chris Martin or Tom Ford

Name a book you read that positively shaped you.

Non-violent Communication

You believe in sisterhood at work because?

Iit is a must. Women empowerment at work and in society can only be achieved when women understand and support each other. I strongly believe in sisterhood because it helps us learn from each other, stand for each other and create something bigger than a single woman can do.  

Who are your role models?

I don’t have any specific role models. I admire people who are courageous to be different, fun, and down-to-earth.  

If you had one superpower, what would it be?

Stopping Covid-19 across the world!

Share a story about a time when you were really proud of your achievement 

Learning German at the age of 40 and starting coaching in that language as well. 

Share a story about a time how you recovered from a great mistake 

I am not sure if the story that I am going to share is a mistake or not but it was a great lesson for me. I used to be someone who always has a Plan B and thinks 4 steps ahead. When my husband had cancer, after the 3rd or 4th chemotherapy, low blood cell counts put him at risk. The doctors told us they need to stop the therapy and will follow a different protocol. As you can imagine, I started bombarding them with lots of questions. They were amazing and explained to me the first action in detail that they will take. I asked them “what if this action does not work?”. Their answer was powerful and learning for me: “let’s focus on this action and hope that it will work out. This is what we can do now. If it does not work out, we can move to the next step then.” 

Your advice to the next generation of career women from your learnings

Know yourself well, find out what makes you distinctive and try to bring it into everything that you do. Build relationships! 

Describe yourself as a teenager in 3 words

Positive, ambitious, friendly

Last book you read or are reading now.

No Rules Rules

If you weren’t in your industry – what would you be doing?

I would be in the Fashion business

If your house was on fire, what two things would you run back in to get?

My wallet and mobile phone

How did you overcome the glass ceiling?

  • Being myself rather than trying to fit the boxes in others’ heads. I was aware of who I am, what I can do, how I can make a difference, and always focused on that.
  • Being courageous to share what I am thinking and how I am feeling.
  • Never give up without giving it a try.

What is your advice on beating the imposter syndrome? 

Mindfulness and self-compassion; I highly recommend the book - The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions by Christopher K. Germer. This book is about building a relationship with ourselves. It describes ways to listen to our body, emotions, self-talk, acknowledge them and be kind to ourselves. 

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