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Gokcen Tapkan

Gokcen Tapkan

Director of Data Research

Black Kite


Gokcen Tapkan is the Director of Data Research at Black Kite, where she plays a key role in leading cutting-edge AI and ML projects combining her past experience in cybersecurity, compliance and risk. With a background in cryptography, cybersecurity, and compliance, she brings 10+ years of expertise in the government sector, particularly in military-level information security. Since 2012, she has been an Expert Evaluator for European Projects. Holding a master's degree in Computer Engineering from Bosphorus University, Gokcen is not only dedicated to her professional role but also actively engaged in a charitable AI project focused on supporting children on the autism spectrum. Her commitment to leveraging technology for social good is a testament to her passion for making a positive impact

Leadership Characteristics

Gokcen would describe herself as a pro-active, multi-tasking, human champion person

Leadership Challenges

About three years ago, we encountered a significant challenge with a Compliance Automation project using an off-the-shelf large language model (LLM) for AI. As we delved into the data daily, it became apparent that something wasn't quite right with the model outcomes, so we decided to develop our own model. Within four months, the notion of developing this in-house model evolved into a full-time research project. Despite the maturity of the idea, resources were not as mature at that time. Fast forward to today, and LLMs, along with various models and services, are experiencing almost exponential growth.

During those challenging times, we faced numerous sleepless nights, investing hours in data analysis, outcome evaluation and re-engineering- and I say "we"- because I was doing this with my team. Fortunately, back then, and still today, I have the support of an exceptional team — mostly women.

Working in a relatively niche area, extracting meaningful model outcomes from the project posed a formidable challenge that ultimately proved successful. The journey was both painful and empowering.

Key Take-a-ways

"Stepping out of comfort zones and the endless pursuit of knowledge are pieces of advice generously shared by remarkable women in technology. But here's my take: always find something that genuinely inspires you. It's not about jumping from one thing to another; it's about discovering that sweet spot where passion and purpose align. The spot where you are unique and can fulfill yourself."

Fun Fact

One of my proudest moments in my career was when the European Commission offered me a contract to be their go-to for evaluating tech projects aiming for funding from the European Union. It was a tough and stressful gig, but I was up for the challenge. And there's a twist. Right in the middle of this whirlwind, I welcomed my first baby into the world. He was a tiny three-month-old when I took on this role that had me volleying between Brussels and working remotely with a brand new baby in my life. But I was determined to be there for him and nurse him until he hit the one-year mark.

I did a bit of risk management and weighed my options. Rejecting the job seemed like slamming the door on future opportunities, so I went for it. I wasn't about to compromise on my commitment to nurse my son for at least a year. I made a setup in the Brussels office, complete with a pumping station to keep my nursing goal on track. During meetings, people couldn't help but notice his cute picture on my laptop background. Cue the questions: Who's this adorable baby? Who's looking after him and feeding him? (Cue the laughter upon the response.) Then after welcoming my second child, I needed to figure out how to be a nursing mom on a business trip. I was experienced now, so I used a similar station setup even while traveling.

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