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Making intentional career decisions

with Ali Littman & Ali Irturk

August 9, 2022


Ali Littman is the Director of Engineering at Modern Health, where she leads product engineering teams that make it possible for people to receive online mental health services the moment they need and at no cost to the individual. Prior to her current role, she served as the Director of Engineering at Omada Health. Outside of her role, she is also a champion for diversity and inclusion, most notably leading a Women's ERG, serving on company-wide belonging councils, and providing imposter syndrome coaching.

Ali Littman is a passionate engineering leader specializing in healthcare technology both in traditional and digital healthcare settings. She currently serves as Head of Engineering at Modern Health where she gets to lead engineering teams on the exciting journey of evolving how people access and receive mental health care treatment around the world. Ali enjoys taking startups through their scale phase and has been an engineering leader on hypergrowth journeys at both Omada Health and Modern Health - leading them through organizational, market, and product expansion. Her background in business from Haas at UC Berkeley helps navigate these business challenges with the philosophy of having business strategy inform the engineering strategy.

At the end of the day, she cares most about being a great people leader who creates inclusive cultures and teaches managers how to be great managers for their teams. She also goes a step beyond her usual management duties to serve on Belonging Councils, lead ERGs, provides imposter syndrome coaching, and mentor individuals from under-represented groups in tech. Additionally, Ali's led external talks on navigating career growth, imposter syndrome, challenging leadership scenarios, and more!

"I view my relationship to people that I work with or people that I manage right now, as actually like a lifelong commitment and I think because of that, I end up with these really strong connections even beyond past opportunities."

- Ali Littman   


Ali's day-to-day passion is creating and being part of efficient and effective engineering organizations that are firing on all cylinders where team members can achieve autonomy, mastery, and purpose in a psychologically safe environment. He will continue to realize this passion by working at CommerceHub as their Vice President of Engineering.

He previously worked at rocketship start-ups funded by some of the top VCs in the world including a16z, SoftBank, Microsoft Ventures, and Lightspeed Ventures to name a few. Ali was the Vice President of Engineering at WorkBoard, a strategy and results enterprise SaaS platform helping large organizations align quickly for results, leading product delivery as well as accessibility, application security, release engineering, platform, and infrastructure teams. Previously, he was the Vice President of Engineering at ALICE Technologies working on revolutionizing the construction industry with an artificial intelligence-powered enterprise SaaS product.

Ali also created and managed the advanced products group at Cognex Corporation (NASDAQ: CGNX) for 8 years while working as an adjunct professor at UC San Diego. His team worked on creating innovative industrial vision systems and software to help companies improve their product quality, eliminate production errors, and lower manufacturing costs. Examples of the products he worked on were the world's first vision system on chip and the world's fastest 3D scanning system to name a few.

Where Ali is today is quite different from where his journey began. Born and raised in Istanbul, I graduated from the Turkish Naval Academy and served as an officer in the Turkish Navy. After leaving the Navy, he earned Master's degrees in Computer Engineering and Economics at UC Santa Barbara, a Ph.D. degree in Computer Science at UC San Diego, and an MBA at UC Berkeley.

"In a grander scheme, I think people should be always looking for opportunities at all times. There's a famous saying... 'The best time to eat hors d'oeuvres are... they're being passed around. The moment that if you're not ready to eat, now you're gonna miss that!’"

- Ali Irturk   

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  • Frameworks for navigating new internal & external opportunities (3:36)
  • Three steps for determining which opportunities you should prioritize (5:21)
  • Ask this question to validate your assumptions (8:08)
  • Reflecting on your personal values & how they align with opportunities (9:02)
  • Why growth & interpersonal connection matter to Ali Littman (10:08)
  • Ali Irturk’s recommendations for great networking (11:13)
  • View your professional relationships as life-long commitments (13:09)
  • Book recommendations for frameworks on the job search process (14:29)
  • How the right manager can provide the best opportunities (16:47)
  • Use a decision-grid to help filter & assess decisions (20:06)
  • Analyzing your energy level & trusting your gut while making decisions (21:52)
  • How your priorities evolve over time (23:49)
  • The hedgehog & outliers concepts (25:45)
  • Balancing your current strengths with opportunities you can grow from (29:29)
  • Why there’s no such thing as a singular leadership style (30:47)
  • Vulnerable leadership & creating a culture of trust (34:10)
  • Rapid fire questions (36:42)


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