Better in business: 3 short stories on success / FLP İstanbul, 2014.

Posted By :
Comments : 0

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to FLP İstanbul 2014 breakfast session,

Let me first introduce myself…My name is Hande. I am a journalist.

I’ve been working as a business and economy journalist for 16 years. Within these years I’ve interviewed several business leaders from all around the world, did research and, wrote hundreds of articles on how businesses work…

As journalists, I assume you’ll easily agree that we are story tellers. That’s what we can do best. Therefore I prepared this speech upon 3 short stories. I’m going to talk about three businesswomen who had great success in their businesses.

The reason I chose these stories is firstly because I personally find them inspring..

Secondly they are about women…

I believe we’re lack of feminen energy nowadays…not only in business but in every bit of our lives…

Think this way…Everything in nature is about balance… If you take some from the sea, it takes some from the solid. You have left and right brains and need to use them both in a balance to stand powerful. It is not possible to stand with just one leg for a long time, right? It’s the same for feminen and male enegies..We all have them both and we all need to use them both in a balance to stand still.

We are in a very tough period of time.. Everyday on the news we’re hearing fights, pain, injustice, atrocity… I believe one of the reasons that we have all these ongoing negatives is because of the lack of feminine energy.

Women are sensitive, women knows motherhood, women are creators…

Women like to gather a lot of information and they’re hard-wired for empathy. We’re terrific multi-taskers and we are open to collaboration and sharing success.

Wouldn’t it be better with more feminen energy?

…so I’m gonna try to pour a little on you!

And thirdly, there are some statistics that really makes me upset. Beside, I always believe that they stand as a barrier against better businesses.

Let me share some numbers with you:

Grant Thornton have been tracking the proportion of women in senior management since 2004. They’ve recently published their 2014 report on March and that report shows that the proportion of women in the most senior roles has stagnated at 24% – the same as the result in 2012, 2009 and 2007.

Regionally, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia lead the way on women in senior management, with 37% and 35%, respectfully. Surprisngly Russia has the highest proportion, at 43%, followed closely by Lithuania and Latvia, Georgia, Armenia and Poland. Likewise, 38% of senior management roles in China are held by women.

So..do you want to learn whats on in Turkey?

The indicators regarding women’s participation in business life in Turkey show that women’s participation in the work force and employment is rising year by year. This shows that women’s economic independency is in progress but despite quantitative developments, we cannot talk about a qualitative jump in the men’s world.

According to the Household Labor Statistics revealed by state-run statistic body TÜİK every month, the population of women over 15, able to take part in the work force, is one point above half of Turkey’s total population. However, the number of women that take part in the labor market is under one third of the total.

There is limited female labor in occupations dominated by men, which require qualitative labor and provide social security. There are also women at top and decision making positions and even they are few. According to TÜİK figures, there are 220,000 women in “law-making, high level executive and managers” professions, but get exchited with this number, they only make up 11.5 percent of the total.


Turkey’s Sabancı University’s Corporate Management Forum has recently revealed a report on the rate of participation from women and men in companies’ executive boards. Research was conducted among 3002 chair persons in 427 companies, quoted in Borsa Istanbul (İstanbul Stock Exchange). The report shows only 8.5 percent of board members are women. While the female director rate in supervision committees is 8.2 percent, the rate of male directors is 91.8 percent. As the rate of female directors is 7 percent in corporate management committees, the male director rate is 93 percent.

Also, another report shows that in companies listed in BIST-100, the female director rate in executive boards rose from 8.6 percent in 2008 to only 11.2 percent today.

The report on Turkey shows in 44.5 percent of BIST companies, there aren’t any women board member in executive boards. We need 13 years to have at least one woman on board !!!

Theis last report summarize it well. As it says:

It should be understood that female participation in the work force as worker, or bourgeois in a male dominated capitalism isn’t enough. It is obvious that women should fight for a more fair and humanistic labor process by demanding more participation in management.


My stories are based on women who fighted for and got the best of it.

Emel Aksoy Güldemir

Lets start with Emels’s story. A beautiful young women, a successful entrepreneur from İzmir, Turkey.

While she was studying at college, she was knitting fishing nets to support family income. Her casting is a huge business today…

Let me tell you how:

While she was working as a fish net knitter, she graduated from Ege University Water Products Faculty. She saw the huge potential in the fishing industry and she made a research on mass production of fishing nets.  In 1995 she bought a fishing net machine  from Japon and opened a little shop.

After 3 years she transformed this little shop to a 1.500 square  meters plant. She now employes tens of people and she’s got the two of 5 plants that make fishing nets in the country. Beside the local market she is exporting to European countries, including the fisher king of the world, Norway.

She’s recently signed an aggrement on a partnership with one of the leading fishing companies of Norway, Egersund.

What she is saying is “It was hard..It was hard them to welcome me in the industry. The average age of the fishermen were 50-60 and they were all men. But then.. when they see my ambitious and I am doing quite well, they accepted me.”

Arzuhan Doğan Yalçındağ

The second name could be familier to many of you here. I’m going to talk about Mrs Arzuhan Doğan Yalçındağ. She is the eldest daughter of Turkish media tycoon Aydın Doğan and also known as the first woman chairman of TUSİAD, Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association.

Born in Istanbul in 1965, Yalcindag was immersed in the business world growing up. Her father was a self-made-entrepreneur who founded his first business in 1958 and became one of Turkey’s richest and most influential men over the years. For him, two things in his life were essential – his family and his work. So he always shared his working life with his family.

Yalcindag studied sociology at Bosphorus University in Istanbul, and received her MBA at the American University in London.

By the time she returned to Turkey in 1990, Dogan had expanded into a massive empire, invested in energy, trade, insurance, tourism, and a media group, Dogan Media Holdings, that had become the largest media enterprise in Turkey.

At times, he would be labeled the country’s third most influential man — after the prime minister and the chief of the armed forces of Turkey.

Yalcindag jumped into the family business right away — partly due to interest, but also a sense of obligation.

“Our society is still more patriarchic than Western societies and people are much more reluctant to revolt against their parents and choose individual career paths,” she says. “No matter how much economic independence and professional success we acquire, there is a certain hierarchy and respect toward elders, which has helped Turkish family companies to remain intact over the years” she adds.

Her first accomplishment was founding Milpa Co., one of Turkey’s first mail-order companies. Then she worked on establishing Alternatif Bank, a bank specifically designed to meet the needs of mid-sized companies, and finally moved on to manage one of the group’s newspapers. She later initiated a partnership between CNN International and Doğan Media Holding, which resulted in one of Turkey’s first news channels, CNN Türk in 2000.

As Yalcindag gained national prominence, and even global recognition — she made Forbes’ list of youngest women billionaires in 2008 — her father became embroiled in a bitter power struggle with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Having orchestrated government-friendly coverage in his newspapers for years, the tide turned when Doğan lost out on some profitable public contracts. Suddenly the most influential Doğan papers were harshly criticizing Erdoğan. The Turkish leader struck back.

In 2009, Erdogan unleashed tax investigators on his archenemy. They found evidence of $2.3 billion in unpaid — a sum that would ruin even a huge enterprise like Dogan. He conceded defeat, and replaced his harshest editors-in-chief and columnists. In early 2010, he resigned as chief executive, and left his eldest daughter, Arzuhan Doğan Yalçındağ to fix the situation.

What she’s asked to do was what most believed was impossible: save the family business.

“It was complete chaos – many people thought the holding would not survive the crisis it was in,” she said in an interview.

But the challenge was immense: yanking the multibillion dollar empire from the brink of bankruptcy.

Yalcindag sold some of the group’s most critical newspapers and a private news and entertainment channel Star TV. She also pulled the company temporarily from the energy sector, a highly competitive industry that usually brought business and government into conflict, managing to soften Erdogan’s rage and rehabilitate the family business.

Today the holding is steering back towards growth.

As she said, her father’s management style was very patriarchic, which is normal in the first generation of a family business. He made all decisions and didn’t like people interfering with them. But the change of leadership inevitably led to a much more modern, transparent and pluralist corporate culture.

And that’s how she succeed!

Ümran Beba

“Ümra Beba can be the CEO of PepsiCo” these words belong to Indra Nooyi, the CEO of world’s leading food and beverage company, PepsiCo. Nooyi told this 5 years ago when Ümran Beba was the president of PepsiCo’s South East Europe Region. Recently she is the senior vice president and chief HR officer of PepsiCo AMEA.

Beba has held a wide range of roles since joining the company in 1994. Prior to assuming her current position, she was President of PepsiCo’s Asia-Pacific region, a business spanning 25 markets with approximately 4,400 direct employees.

Earlier in her career, she was President of PepsiCo’s South East Europe Region, covering 14 markets including Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Israel and the Balkans. Beba has also served as the Business Unit General Manager for East Mediterranean, comprising Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Iraq. She started her PepsiCo career at Frito-Lay in Turkey, where she held positions including Marketing Director, HR Director and ultimately General Manager.

Beba is a great supporter of all of PepsiCo’s Performance with Purpose goals. During her time as President of PepsiCo Asia-Pacific, the region was home to WaterHope, a collaborative social enterprise that aims to bring clean drinking water to one million Filipinos by 2015. Under her leadership, the Region also launched sustainable product initiatives in Australia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Umran Beba is also a dedicated advocate of diversity and inclusion.

“We are committed to diversity because it gives us a competitive advantage and can drive innovation and growth. As an international producer of consumer goods, foods, and beverages, our customer base is very diverse. It is of vital importance that this base is represented in our workforce” she says.

Ümran Beba’s counted in the world’s most influential 50 businesswomen for many years. She describes her most important personel career success as moving from marketing to human resources after 10 years. “That was a great step for me to understand the dynamics of an organization as well as its different functions. I was able to listen to employees and at the same time, stay at an equal distance from all while caring for the company and its principles and fairness” she says.

Ümran Beba says her management leadership is based on listening, respect, trust, and collaboration. “I have to hear my team before setting a vision and key strategies. I care a lot about respect and trust, and I expect the same. Results will come with vision, focus, collaboration, and team participation” she says.

She believes mentoring is the key tool for covering different areas that are relevant to goals. Her motto in the company is described with 3C’s: confidence, courage and care. These are the other things that made her better in business and be successful.

But  above all, she mentions the support that she had during the years of challenge at work from her family. “I couldn’t have done them all without the support of my husband” she says and adds:

“Balancing  work and personal life, especially when you are in charge of many markets and need to travel is a must.”


These were my stories. I’d like to finish by quating Mrs Beba once again…

She, as many executives do, spends a significant portion of her time sharing the success story of PepsiCo.

“Sharing the message enlarges it and makes it more powerful so that you can attract other companies to drive toward the same goals” she says.

And what I’m gonna tell is:

“Sharing makes the message stronger”.

Hope you like..

Thank you.


About the Author

Leave a Reply


captcha *