Nur Gökman, Chairwoman and General Manager of Hitit

Can you tell us about yourself and your career journey? Who is Nur Gökman?

I was born in Istanbul. After graduating from Çapa Primary School and Istanbul Girls’ High School , I got into Istanbul University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics. At the same time, I started to take an interest in physics. Therefore, I transferred to the Department of Physics and completed my higher education with a double diploma. In those years, Computer Engineering department had not been established in Turkey yet. During my short banking experience, I attended IBM’s computer courses. This led me to a place where I actually belonged, namely the software industry and a career that would lead the development of aviation technology in Turkey. I worked at Turkish Airlines (THY) for nearly 20 years as Programmer, Project Leader, System Development Manager, Vice President of Information Technologies and Head of Training. I left THY and founded Hitit to develop software solutions for the aviation industry. At the point we have reached today, Hitit is among the world’s leading companies producing aviation technology in its field.

How did your story with Dilek Ovacık and Hitit Computer Services (Hitit) start after you left THY? While summarizing this exciting process since its establishment, can you tell us about the support you see as women entrepreneurs and the difficulties you have experienced, if any?

When we were establishing Hitit, we had set out with the goal of “creating a technology company from Turkey”. When I look back at the end of a 29-year journey, I am proud to see that we have achieved this goal. The most difficult issue on this journey was the prejudice that a technology company would not come out of Turkey. Existing with a female identity in the field of technology, especially working in a field such as aviation technologies, was very unusual. First of all, we were trying to create a sector that did not exist in Turkey before and promote it abroad. As two women entrepreneurs, we broke these prejudices by doing our job properly and with our belief in the young minds of our country. As a result of our correct interpretation of the gaps and areas of development in the sector, the fact that we have a team working with devotion, and the good relations we have established with our business partner airlines, we have made Hitit a world-class brand. Today, we are happy to serve more than 60 airlines in more than 40 countries in 6 continents.

It is understood that Hitit operates in the field of aviation informatics, especially by developing the Role Model qualities of its managers and the gender balance in the company layers; can you tell us about the corporate culture elements and your corporate projects that are being implemented?

Hitit, which we established as two women entrepreneurs and which is now among the leading companies in the world in its field, has managed to maintain female dominance for 29 years. In our company, 50 percent of the Board of Directors, 65 percent of its senior management and 35 percent of its employees are women. At the same time, we are the company with the highest ratio of female executives among companies that went public in the software industry in Turkey. We are also a signatory to the 25by2025 initiative launched by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in order to maintain the gender balance in the aviation industry. Considering the male-dominated employment structure in both technology and aviation, as a company serving at the junction of technology and aviation, I think we are one of the exemplary companies that succeeded in increasing the gender balance above the general criteria.

I can summarize our basic human resources principles behind this success as follows. In particular, we create equal opportunities for all roles and we do not discriminate against gender. At the same time, the wage inequality that is frequently encountered in the real sector for male and female employees is completely out of question at Hitit. We apply an equal pay policy for equal work. In addition, our working order, which we carry out on a voluntary basis, creates a great advantage especially for our female employees with children and allows them to work without leaving their business life.

We do not limit our approach to diversity and inclusion to employment only. We shape our approaches to social responsibility in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.  We aim to reduce inequalities of opportunity with the steps we take in the field of education. We try to take part in projects that support gender equality in education. We train women on STEM through the associations and platforms we are members of. We take care to give priority to young women in internships and recruitment, and to contribute to their development by providing mentorship and scholarship opportunities. With our Rackets Up project, we aim to bring girls and boys together with sports equally.

How do you evaluate the situation of Women Entrepreneurs, Women Employment in the Aviation Sector and Information Technologies Sector in Turkey and the state, sector and social approaches in each of them?

 Aviation and information technologies in Turkey are among the sectors dominated by men, as in the rest of the world. This situation emerges as a result of a general prejudice.

Today, only 5 out of 1000 girls under the age of 15 want to work in information technologies. For boys, this rate is 15 percent. While the proportion of men working in machine learning is 88 percent, only 12 percent are women, and only 2 percent of patents in information technologies belong to women. When it comes to mobile application and software programming, the proportion of women is even below 6 percent. Only 25 percent of middle management positions at S&P 500 companies and large technology companies are held by women.

It will be possible to break the existing prejudice about the existence of women in the information technology sector with education. I believe that we need to strengthen the presence of women in technology through collaborations with companies, NGOs and government in this field.

Of course, looking at the general picture; As I mentioned in the previous question, I can say that as Hitit, we are in a very privileged place. As an aviation technology company with operations in Turkey and  around the world, we are above both the global and national averages in female employment and we are proud of it.

What do you want to say about women in the world and in our region this week due to the “Women of Aviation Week (WOAW)” realized between March 6 and 12, 2023 this year?

 As in the rest of the world, there are various difficulties faced by women in our country, doors which they have difficulty to open and glass ceilings which they cannot break. However, this situation should not lead women to despair. We faced various obstacles on our journey as two female entrepreneurs 29 years ago. Despite prejudices, we continued on our way with determination and stability. I wish that the global success we have achieved at the point which we have reached today will inspire all women.  I believe that every success of Turkish women will create a butterfly effect in our society and will be a role model for a woman or a girl you may not know. That’s why I advise women to never give up, work hard and follow their dreams.

Increasing the quality of future generations will be possible with the empowerment of women. Therefore, we must ensure that especially girls benefit from their right to education. As the great leader Atatürk said in one of his words, “Our women will have knowledge and science, and they will pass all the education steps that men pass. Women will be each other’s helpers and supporters by walking with men in social life.” By adopting this principle, we should especially educate girls in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics called STEM, make more room for women in these sectors and thus move our country forward.

On this occasion, I congratulate the International Women’s Aviation Week of all women who have contributed to the development of aviation in the world.

How did the idea of bringing together aviation and technology, which is seen as the starting point of your initiative, was born, how did it develop, can you tell us about the figures and facts?

As I mentioned before, I worked at THY in many different positions for more than 20 years. In the 1980s, there were dynamism in the world regarding the digital transformation of passenger service systems of airlines. In those years, I believed that we could do this digital transformation in Turkey with our local engineers, and that we should not be dependent on outside in terms of technology. This is the starting point of Hitit: Getting rid of external dependency! At that time, we were confident in ourselves and we were sure that we could produce a technology that would be accepted globally and turn it into a commercial product. At the end of the 1980s, I said to THY General Manager and Chairman of the Board of Directors Cem Kozlu, “We can do the digital transformation!”. Mr. Kozlu and the very valuable THY managers of the period said, “They can do, we believe!” The decision has a very important place in the establishment of Hitit and its coming to these days.

With this belief and self-confidence, we established Turkey’s first aviation technology company in 1994 by two female entrepreneurs. To summarize what we have done in 29 years; We have become the third largest aviation technologies company in the world, with a staff of nearly 400 people. Today, we are the only Turkish company exporting aviation software solutions to 6 continents and we fly our flag in almost every region of the world.

How do you evaluate the changes in technologies and priorities of importance in the next 20 years in the aviation industry, in Hitit’s functions and in the geographies where it operates, mainly focused on Airlines ERP (Airline Enterprise Resource Planning) solutions? In this process, what could be some of Hitit’s moves that can be shared in open source?

We see that aviation technologies, in parallel with their natural development cycle, are in a continuous development with some events and crises in the world that have global effects and efforts to find answers to them. I wish we had not lived, but the Covid-19 pandemic has caused many unplanned new technologies to adapt to our lives. In aviation, this process has enabled passenger transactions to be more contactless and to connect all the different institutions and processes surrounding the passenger throughout their journey in a more integrated way. Aiming at speed and the increase in contactless technologies, these developments essentially aim to personalize air travel. On the other hand, when we think that the Z generation will be the most basic customers of the aviation industry in the next 20 years, expectations should be analyzed very well and quickly integrated into aviation.

Hitit’s first software product was the loyalty solution. Today at THY, we sowed the first seeds of the technology you know as Miles&Smiles. Our ever-evolving and growing Crane FF (Frequent Flyer) software became the most used loyalty system in the world in 2012. We have gained a place in the world market with our passenger service systems solutions that we have developed in parallel, and we have made improvements in different areas that many big companies have not done yet. Our Crane branded software solutions has been developed over the years, by addressing different fields of aviation such as schedule and crew planning, financial transactions such as revenue and cost accounting, commercial products such as airline travel merchandising and air cargo. Currently, there is no other aviation technology company in the world that offers such a comprehensive software solution.

In the upcoming period, we will continue to work in line with the needs and expectations of the sector. If I have to mention a few of them; We will soon implement our developments in which we integrate artificial intelligence, ADP and dynamic pricing studies that our airline partners are eagerly waiting for.

You talked about the developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI), can you give some details about it?

We have been investing in maximum improvement (optimization) for a long time. Unfortunately, there are problems that we cannot solve with optimization techniques and current computing power. Then we asked, “Why don’t we include artificial intelligence?” and we worked hard on this new vision. I think you are all familiar with popular technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning. With these methodologies, it is possible to train the machine to analyze, understand, find hidden patterns in data and make predictions. As Hitit, we adapt to technologies related to artificial intelligence to improve existing business solutions.

We combine different methodologies to enable machines to perceive, comprehend, act and learn with human-like intelligence levels. We aim to help airline companies grow their business and increase their revenues by using hybrid methodologies, artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques in optimization. For this purpose, we made an agreement with We will also use artificial intelligence in the areas of pricing and dynamic pricing of additional services. In the coming period, we aim to increase our investments in this field, both to strengthen the technological capacity of our software solutions and to contribute to the development of the sector and our airline partners.

How do you evaluate the development of technologies related to your field of activity and the demand they see in terms of Turkish aviation?

In terms of our field of activity, the development of the relevant technology is in parallel with the development of Hitit. Because Hitit, Turkey’s first company in aviation technologies, which is our field of activity, is the largest and only company in our country in terms of software solutions and services. It is the only company that exports its technology to more than 40 countries in the world.

In this context, if we need to talk about Hitit’s R&D investments, we invest most of our budget and human resources in this area. Hitit employees, whose number is close to 400, are mostly computer engineers who are experts in their fields. With R&D and human resources investment, we make the developments that the industry needs.

Hitit PSS embarked on its journey in Turkey with Pegasus. Currently, Pegasus still uses Hitit’s software solutions in all areas. Unfortunately, the pandemic negatively affected aviation in Turkey, we had airline partners that we worked with but stopped their operations after the pandemic. At the same time, new airline companies began to be established. I can say that most of them see Hitit as the first address for software solutions.

We are also proud to announce our newest partnership. AnadoluJet, one of Turkey’s most important airline companies, will now fly with Hitit’s technology. This agreement, in which two local powers cooperate, is very important for us. We hope it will continue for a long time to come.

In terms of “Sustainability” and “Innovation”, how is a Hitit’s technology that is constantly developing and renewing itself according to the needs of the industry?

As Hitit, we are a company dedicated to our partners and their success. In our approach to business, we always place them at the center of all developments. Because we believe we have grown together.

Our approach, which we call the community governance model; emerged as a result of this close cooperation and understanding. This approach ensures that Hitit is always up-to-date in the fields of sustainability and innovation.

At Hitit, we believe that it is very important to consult with our partners so that the services we provide and the developments we make with our expert teams in the field of industry and technology are meaningful. With this approach, we work hand in hand and spend long hours developing innovative software solutions that will help them achieve their goals. Many people who contribute to Hitit with their knowledge, experience and expertise are an important part of what differentiates us in the sector. We have developed a support system to continue working effectively as a team with our partners. Our partners can reach us 24/7 via phone calls, e-mails or instant messaging programs.

What would you like to share in the development and renewal of Human Resources which is the most basic input of technology? Do you have any invitations or suggestions to young people whose career future may intersect with Hitit?

The technology sector is one of the most difficult sectors to ensure the continuity of employment. Although turnover rates are high, the opposite is the case in Hitit. For this reason, I would like to briefly talk about what we are doing in Hitit and what is happening as a result. We work as a team with both our employees and airline partners by preserving and developing our human resources and incorporating our young talents into our processes. We saw the best example of this during the pandemic period. Hitit did not part ways with any of its employees during the pandemic period, and increased the number of its employees by 34%. We are especially recruiting for newly graduated software developers and business analyst positions.

We strengthen our experienced, team-oriented, agile teams with a balance of young talents who are newly graduated, newly started their business life, supported by mentoring. We can see that young talents, who act with an experienced team acting with the goal of launching a technology company from Turkey and making the products available to the whole world, work by seeing this motivation and are quickly involved in the processes. We are happy to see among us especially young computer engineers and aviation graduates who want to work within global processes in such a dynamic and flexible working environment.