Ahmet Özokur is a member of the second generation of the Ülker Family. He has the title of vice president and manages Yıldız Holding’s chocolate products group, which has a turnover of TL 4.1 billion. He is responsible for all of Godiva’s operations. Özokur says that he takes his uncle Murat Ülker as his role model and that he is inquisitive and entrepreneurial just like him. He is focusing on growing the group and making it more innovative. “We have shown our rivals how strong we are. This year we are aiming to grow by 20 per cent,” he says. We spoke with Özokur, who plans a 20 per cent growth in chocolate every year, at Ülker’s headquarters in the Çamlıca district of Istanbul.
You started at the holding in information technology and now you are managing the chocolate group. Was this your choice or was it one of the family’s rules?
- There has never been an issue of “raising a generation” in the family. Starting at the holding in information technology was entirely my decision. I never thought of finishing university and coming and working at one of the Yıldız Holding companies. I was always thinking about starting my own business. I held some negotiations with the largest technology retailer in Britain about bringing them to Turkey. In fact, the negotiations were really advanced. After I returned to Turkey, I explained this to my uncle Murat Ülker. He said: “We have some operations in our information technology. Take over all of these, if you want.” He gave me all of the shares in the information technology companies. Of course, this was a more attractive option than starting my own business. The business grew very rapidly. Within three years, I had increased the turnover of the information technology companies from $30 million to $200 million.”
How did you later return to the holding?
- The information technology companies grew a lot. There was a crisis in these years. I sold all of the information technology companies to Yıldız Holding. When I had sold my shares to the holding, I went back and worked with Murat Bey for 5-6 months. This was really my choice.