After receiving her bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, Kate Aydin traded her home city of Istanbul, Turkey, for Pittsburgh, where she pursued her interest in operations and information technology (IT) at Carnegie Mellon University.
“While there, I took advantage of the machine learning classes in the computer science department,” she says. “Carnegie was working on the first autonomous vehicles then, and I was amazed—I thought technology was where I should be.”
When she received her MBA and entered the work world, Aydin found that things were just like they were in her engineering courses: women were the minority competing for one spot. But coming from Turkey to the US, Aydin was driven by the idea of being the change.
“I was in my early twenties and at the time was using my legal name so nobody could tell whether I was male or female. It was fun, walking into a room and shaking their comfort levels,” she recalls. “Of course, everyone was shocked, but it made me pursue my career further.”
That mentality led her through a twenty-five-year career, which included a role on Capgemini’s IT team, senior roles at Clorox and Stryker, and even serving as an independent consultant. In time, Aydin found herself living in the San Francisco Bay Area, the place where, in 2018, she first tried an Impossible Burger.
“At the time, Impossible burgers were not widely available,” she says. “I had one at one of the Bay Area burger joints, but I ordered it by mistake—I couldn’t believe it was plant-based.”
So, when she got the call from the company’s recruiting team months later, Aydin was pleasantly surprised. Its product was delicious, and after having two children, her perspective aligned perfectly with the company’s.
“I have seen changes in the environment and the climate in my lifetime,” she explains. “There are things that I enjoyed when I was little that my kids can’t because they have disappeared. While some of those things can’t be undone, I want to preserve the future environment for them to grow in.”
Aydin always wanted to build something from the ground up. Coming to Impossible Foods as vice president of IT, she had the opportunity to do exactly that. She built the IT team from scratch—a process she described as a puzzle, fitting candidates together based on complementary strengths and shared team culture.
“Everyone on our team is passionate. Everyone sees the impacts of the livestock industry, and they want to make a change in the world,” she says. “At Impossible, we have the advantage of seeing the result of what our impact is, and everyone plays a part in that. We’ve accomplished it all together.”
Today, Aydin is not only the senior vice president of IT at Impossible Foods but also chief information officer—a position that she accredits to teambuilding for any department and for herself.
“It is not a walk in the park. Women have come a long way in this field, but there’s still much further to go,” she notes. “There are amazing opportunities. Go after them all, and just know that you will face challenges. We need the people to support us through those challenges—build your own advisor network and team.”