When Melis began studying to become an engineer in Ankara, she could not have anticipated her challenging and varied career, or the international experience she would gain

Today, Turkish-born Melis leads the complex operations at our factory in Almaty, Kazakhstan. She is responsible for a team of some 300 people, who manufacture more than 11 billion cigarettes a year for the domestic market and export to countries all over the Central Asia region.

A career full of learning

After studying engineering at the Middle East Technical University Melis began her career at JTI’s factory in Turkey. She was quickly promoted through several positions locally, before being appointed to a regional role. Her skill for leading large teams and managing a complex organization was rewarded with a role in JTI’s Geneva headquarters where she worked as a Quality Assurance Director.

“I had six years in Geneva when I traveled continuously and experienced the truly global nature of our business, including three months in Japan on an exchange program.  After that experience, and all that I learned, I felt ready to take on any challenge.”

A unique tobacco product

The next chapter of Melis’s career adventure took her to Vårgårda, a village to the north-east of the Swedish city of Gothenburg. She was responsible for product development and manufacturing operations at JTI’s factory in Sweden which produces snus, a Scandinavian smokeless tobacco product. The product is unique to Sweden, and has a rich local heritage.

Melis was responsible for leading more than 30 people involved in the manufacturing process for snus, including a small team working on product development. In addition to the challenge of running a factory, Melis and her family had to adjust to life in a new country – including tackling the Swedish language. 

An unconventional path

In many ways Melis has followed an unconventional path to achieve the position she has today, starting from being just one of five women in a class of over one hundred engineering students. This was not a traditional career beginning for a Turkish woman.


"I would encourage anyone who is young and ambitious to just get on with it regardless of tradition. If you like what you’re doing, that’s all that counts"

Melis, Operations Director, Almaty


“Managing the demands of work and family life can be stressful sometimes and requires careful planning but I wouldn’t change it. They offered me the job in Sweden just a year after our daughter was born. My husband has been very supportive on the one hand and the company equally supportive on the other, allowing me to have both an international career and a family life.”

“Leading the factory in Kazakhstan has been a whole new challenge. It is a demanding job, managing a large team and overseeing a complex operation. In addition, we are adapting to life in a new country, which brings with it many challenges and new experiences. I could not have taken on this role without the support of my family, or the support I have received from JTI.”

Global Top Employer three years in a row

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