When you compare it with the years when you started out, have there been radical changes in terms of managing companies and doing business?
- There are difficulties in every era. I don’t want to say that it was more difficult in those days and that it is easier today, or that it is the other way around. We began our careers during the time of the founding generation. It was an era when all the authority and responsibility rested with that founding generation. At that time, there were two main problems, the first of which was sustaining production. The most important question they used to think about was: “What can we do to sustain production?” The second problem was protection against competition. When we compare the past with the current situation, we see that they are very different. Today there is no such thing as protection against competition. The questions people think about have changed. The first is: “What can we do so that customers buy our products?” The second is: “How can we attract talented people to our company?”
How have you at Eczacıbaşı responded to this change?
- In this new era, it is impossible for any companies which don’t keep pace with this change to survive. Every company has to develop strategies accordingly. We are doing likewise. One of the biggest problems facing companies today is how to attract and motivate talented people. Today it is people who form the basis of companies.
What needs to be done today in order to be a good company? What are the prerequisites for being good?
- First of all, one must meet all of the shareholders’ expectations. A good performance is an essential prerequisite for being a good company. It is important to grow and to be profitable. But, as I see it, in addition to all of this, a good company is a socially responsible company. If, when we think of a company, certain values come to mind then that company is a good company or on the way to becoming one.
What are these values for Eczacıbaşı?
- I don’t want to say. If certain things come to mind when someone mentions Eczacıbaşı then it means that it is a good company. We identified and recorded our values. We read them to our colleagues, have them read to them, have them memorise them. It is important whether or not they feel them and whether or not they live them. There is a corporate culture and this corporate culture creates these values. Our colleagues who work here cannot find definitions and explanations for their behaviour on many subjects in the management rulebook.
In the new era, in which areas do you think that leaders should display leadership?
- Today’s leaders should be people who can change and make change happen. They should be able to choose and motivate the most talented people. Studies show that there is no clear answer to what motivates people and what makes them really enthusiastic. In fact, being a leader is very difficult. Stephen Covey says: “In the past, we used to regard people as stomachs.” They would be motivated by receiving a salary which enabled them to fill their stomachs. Then people’s hearts were discovered. It was understood that it was not enough just to fill people’s stomachs but that one needed to treat them well.