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The Global 50’s most difficult memories
08 Eylül 2015 Salı 11:28

The Global 50’s most difficult memories

Is it easy to rise to the top of giant companies?

Today there are very many Turkish executives at the top of global companies. Mother Kent, Tufan Erginbilgiç, Hikmet Ersek and Serpil Timuray are just some of them… Capital conducted research on those who have achieved success in the global arena and reached the highest level in global companies, the “Global Turks”, This revealed the issues which caused these successful executive the greatest difficulty in their part to the top abroad. Here are the issues that made things difficult for the global Turks.


The sectors which offer Turks the greatest opportunities to work abroad and become a high level executive are fast-moving consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, finance and information technology.  Egon Zehnder Management Consultant Tankut Sensürücü notes the companies such as Coca-Cola, P&G, Unilever, Microsoft, which have made talented management part of their global philosophy, have been doing this in Turkey for over 20 years. Sansürcü says that the difficulties that Turkish executives face abroad come from the fact that social relations are not as warm and close as in their own country.

Gökhan Sığın, who is BSH president responsible for the Middle East and South Asia and CEO of the Dubai-based BSH company, says that what caused him the greatest difficulty initially was social life. Sığın explains how he overcome this problem as follows: “Those who want to have a global career should re-establish the social elements that support their success as soon as possible in their new location.

Executives with considerable emotional intelligence can establish new social relations more quickly and, as a result, will be successful in their jobs more quickly as well”


For Turks who go to work abroad, the first important difficulty that they need to overcome is the different culture of the country where the have gone and of the people with whom they will work. Cenk Serdar, the Vice President Responsible for Saudi Arabia an Turkey Customer Relations at he Saudi Telecom Company, highlights his own experiences in this regard.

Serdar notes that the most important characteristic required of someone working abroad is the ability to work in a different environment and with different people and to be able to adapt rapidly and he explains: “I saw that in the Netherlands in business everyone is equal, regardless of their position in the organization’s hierarchy. While I was working in Britain I understood that most of the replies you receive are phrased diplomatically and that you need to continually read between the lines. I got used to adapting quickly to every environment that I entered and accepting people as they are.”


In fact, language can be a significant problem for the Global Turks. For example, Sinan Altığ, who served as Pfizer Global Innovative Pharmaceuticals Department Andes Region Leader, says that the most significant difficult the faced in the first six months of his foreign adventure was the language barrier. Altığ explains the problem the faced and how he overcome it as follows:

“When I was appointed, five of the eleven people who worked under me did not speak English. I began to take private lessons, two hours at a time three times a week, immediately after I had finished work. Years later I was doing homework. During my fifth month, my interpreted was taken ill just before I was going to make a field visit. That day I spoke with the doctors and health team by moving my head and eyes. I began to have confidence in my Spanish. I stopped having an interpreter. When I gave a presentation in Spanish to all of the Pfizer employees at the sixth monthly meeting I received a standing ovation. On that the day and today I only speak Spanish at work”


Another difficult facing those who make a career abroad is the need of establish a family life abroad and never-ending homesickness. L'Oreal Asia and India Luxury Products General Manager Demet Büyükdere Keşişoğlu explains what caused her the greatest difficulties as follows:

“Working abroad forces one to manage work and family together and in a balanced manner. I travel a lot, which can make this balance a little more sensitive. It is so important to ensure, as much as possible, not to take work home and to bear in mind family balances when making decisions related to progress in one’s new career”. 

Unilevel Global Procurement Chain Finance Vice President Ayşe Atakan says that the only difficulties she faced while working abroad were related to the family. Atakan says that in other countries household helps and child-carers are more expensive. “You don’t have a second helper, like your mother, and hand. We solved this problem by working with good agencies who find personnel and ensuring a good division of labor within the family"

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