Why my mother’s words didn’t stop me

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Life at Siemens

A little girl’s dream

In 1971 Zehra Kaval came from Turkey to Germany when she was three years old, as the daughter of immigrant workers. Today, she is proud to have reached her personal ambition and now works as a Management Assistant in the Digital Factory Division. It took her 35 years of hard work to make this dream a reality, but even at five years of age, she knew what she wanted to do.

“When I was five, my mother used to moonlight as a cleaner at Siemens. Our life was very modest, and as we didn’t have a bath we were allowed to use the showers at Siemens once a week. When we were there I saw the beautiful big rooms and the lovely furniture, and in amazement asked my mother: “Who lives here Mama?” She replied with a chuckle: “Nobody lives here, little one; these are offices. The bosses work here with their secretaries.” I announced excitedly: “Mama, when I grow up I’m going to be a secretary at Siemens too!” She smiled and answered: “Sweetheart, your mum and dad are guest workers. You’ll work in the factory like me, and maybe you’ll go out cleaning, but you won’t work in an office like this.” Brought back to reality from my dream world, I was very sad as I let that goal go (for now).

Fast forward a few years, and after completing an apprenticeship, I started work in a Grundig factory. The layoffs began two years later, and I was offered further training. I saw my opportunity, and my dream came one huge step closer. I completed an industrial business administration apprenticeship, then a temporary employment agency took me on at Siemens, and half a year later, on January 1, 2000, I was hired as a team assistant.

While visiting my mother in Izmir just a few years ago, I recalled this experience from my childhood. I asked if she remembered it and she said: “Yes, you looked at me with bright eyes and I just smiled. But you showed me that it’s possible.” There were tears in her eyes as she looked at me proudly.

My work is my calling and my passion. It’s difficult to describe how proud I am of the little girl in me who kept whispering “You can achieve anything if you want it hard enough.”

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