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Growth Leaders

From automotives to foodstuffs, white goods and chemicals… They have managed companies in different sectors under diverse competitive conditions. Some have worked in exports, others mostly on the d...

Son Güncelleme: 01.09.2005

From automotives to foodstuffs, white goods and chemicals… They have managed companies in different sectors under diverse competitive conditions. Some have worked in exports, others mostly on the domestic market. They occupied the general manager’s chair in their companies during one of the most difficult times in Turkish history. Even so, they succeeded in making their companies the fastest  growing members of the Capital 500. A study based on results for the years 2001-2004 showed that some even achieved a growth rate of 800-1200 percent…

“One must focus on all of the foundation stones of growth in parallel to each other. It doesn’t work if one says first I’ll develop the product, then expand the market and then, when the market has grown, increase productivity. Time passes very quickly and it won’t happen like this. As a result, one needs to ensure that everything develops holistically. If you do not give sufficient importance to human resources then, when the time comes to produce the goods you have developed, problems will arise. If you do not ensure that you have the necessary capacity then you will experience problems in this regard. You should give equal priority to the development of all of the elements.”

This comment by BMC Sanayi Plenipotentiary Board Member Mehmet Demirpençe clearly demonstrates the role that a leader plays in growth. In order to ensure growth each process needs to be developed holistically. This is where the executive comes in. Successful results depend on the development of all of the processes in parallel, the whole team working in harmony and the leader’s abilities. This means that, in one sense, companies can grow quickly as a result of the ‘contribution’ from the chief.


Using this reality as a starting point, Capital compared the turnovers in 2001 and 2004 of the leading 200 companies in its survey of the ‘500 Largest Privately-owned companies in Turkey’. It identified which of the 200 companies had grown the fastest. Then it selected 50 executives who had spent a significant proportion of the last four years actively involved at the head of these rapidly growing companies. The executives on our list are headed by Turgay Durak, Hakkı Akkan, Mehmet Demirpençe, Katsumi Sawai and Ahmet Çebi.

The executive factor in growth

What kind of role does an executive play in companies’ growth. Ali Midillili from Msearch Consulting compares a general manager or CEO to the conductor of an orchestra. He says that the job of the conductor of an orchestra is to conduct and bring out the best from different kinds of instruments and people of different ability within the framework of a previously determined sequence of notes. If, in addition to doing this, the conductor can use his knowledge and personal talents to interpret the piece in a different way then this quickly distinguishes him from the others and ranks him amongst the unforgettables. Ali Midillili continues his evaluation as follows:

“If he is to be successful a CEO must have the right instruments and a talented team. The company’s shareholders need to give him some strategies and targets. It is impossible for a CEO to be successful unless he has these guiding instrumental, human and strategic elements. In ensure that the processes are compatible with the strategy, it is necessary to establish appropriate targets and work with the right team. If the CEO inherits such a structure then he can increase productivity, profit and success by implementing a series of approaches.”

Four critical points in growth

The period 2001-2004, which is the subject of our study, was a turning point in Turkish history because the economic crisis in the first quarter of 2001 forced the business world to revise its calculations. For some it meant postponing investment decisions. This is confirmed by figures from the State Institute of Statistics (SIS). By the end of 2001 private sector investment expenditure had contracted by 35.1 percent. But the private sector later began to invest again. In 2020 private sector investment expenditure grew by 21.8 percent, in 2003 by 30 percent and in 2004 by 49.3 percent. This means that the real increase in investments began in 2004. As a result, the aforementioned period executives were not very lucky during this period from the perspective of investment, which is an important factor in growth,.

The period 2001-2004 was also a time in which companies underwent a restructuring process. Companies in all sectors of the economy launched initiatives to try to reduce costs in order to be able to compete with their rivals on domestic and foreign markets. Productivity became a permanent feature on companies’ agendas. Moreover, companies which were seeking to boost sales in the face of increasing competition began to give greater importance to the quality of their products. Executives who gave importance to quality and productivity were more successful than others.

During the abovementioned period, companies also gave greater emphasis to exports. In 2001 Turkey’s total exports stood at $31 billion. By 2004 this figure had risen to $64 billion. Exports became the engine of economic growth in Turkey. Executives who turned exports into an advantage made significant progress in terms of growth.

During this period, companies which developed in parallel the quartet of investment, exports, quality and productivity led the way in terms of growth. Of course, the performance of the companies’ management, that is to say their contribution, played a decisive role in the parallel development of this quartet.

The 50 executives who secured the highest growth for their companies

Executive Rate of increase in turnover (% 2001-2004)  Company

Source: CAPITAL 500 (comparison of turnover for 2001 and 2004)

Note: Calculated on the basis of the first 200 companies in the Capital 500 2005.

Those companies which did not have any turnover in 2001 or whose general managers assumed their posts after 2003 have not been included.

Companies from whom information could not be obtained have also been excluded.

Companies which were operating in 2001 but were later divided into two different companies have also been excluded from the survey.