Gül Akcaova, project manager innovation at SURF

Gül Akcaova has been working at SURF since July 2019. “I like to emphasize the things that connect us.”

“After graduating from Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, I first wanted to start my own business. I had an interest in IT and education and was soon tipped on a vacancy at SURF. Initially, I came in as project support, but knew that my position and team would change. SURF has gone through a reorganization in which the old operating companies (SURFnet, SURFsara, SURFmarket) have been merged into one organization.”

Gül Akcaova, project manager innovation

Common denominator

“I am a project manager with the Innovation Core Team and am currently working on two projects. One of those projects involves the use of persistent identifiers (PIDs) for research information. The other project focuses on our internal innovation process and the collaborative processes that go with it. I really enjoy the complexity and diversity of my work. As a cooperative, we deal with many members from secondary, higher and university education, but also with umc’s and research institutions. Each segment has its own interests. Despite the differences between our members, I find it interesting to look for the common denominator. I like to emphasize the things that connect us.”

Quick contact

“Within SURF there is plenty of opportunity for new initiatives. That way, you can always pick up things that don’t belong within your range of duties. SURF is in a state of change. Processes are being improved, new services are being developed. I like the dynamics of that. SURF has three distinct roles. We are an association of members, a provider of services, and we work on innovation. Sometimes it’s difficult to determine the role that we should play when we meet the institutions. We are now trying to take steps in that direction. Fortunately, we are a ‘flat’, non-hierarchical company in which you quickly and easily contact colleagues.”

Gül Akcaova, project manager innovation

New technology

“Within the innovation teams, there is an open working culture. We like to look for opportunities and possibilities. We are approachable to our members, but do not hesitate to proactively establish lines of communication with them ourselves. I feel there is a lot of freedom and room to develop myself. For example, I have been working for some time on ‘futuring’ in order to better monitor trends and to steer them. We are working on future roadmaps that will help us - together with our members - to develop a long-term vision of certain technologies for education and research. For example, I recently visited Fontys to exchange experiences and ideas about artificial intelligence. And to hear what other technologies they are working on.”

From day to day

“Change is part of SURF. Not just from the perspective of innovation. We continue to talk to our members about the changes that are needed for today, tomorrow and the day after. That’s pretty funny, because I like to live from day to day. I am not someone who maps out her personal future. But I do like to keep developing. It’s nice that I get a lot of freedom to do so.”