Hasan Yılmaz is one of the most experienced executives in the Turkish business community... His career path has seen him serve in high level executive positions in leading companies such as Unilever, PepsiCo, Koç Holding and Hürriyet Gazetecilik.
For the last year, we have been following him at the head of Fenerbahçe. Yılmaz himself says that he took over at CEO at a time when Fenerbahçe was passing through an extremely difficult period and adds that they have realized a large number of projects over the last year.
He says that it is more important for Fenerbahçe to be successful on the sports field than commercially and notes: “This year I am expecting us to be the champion in every sport we play.” We spoke with Yılmaz about Fenerbahçe’s new course and his plans for the future.
How did your path cross with Fenerbahçe’s?
I am a Fenerbahçe supporter. But I wasn’t a member of the congress. I had never seen the club president in my life. Cengiz Solakoğlu was an independent board member of our football company Futbol A.Ş.
When I was at Koç, Ender Alkaya used to work at Migros. He mentioned me to Solakoğlu. They tried to persuade me. I resisted. But then I thought: “If I am going to work for 1-2 more years and then retire, then I shall work for my Fenerbahçe,” and I accepted the offer.
When I was still resisting, they would say: “Come on over one day and meet the club president.” The club president Aziz Yıldırım came and shook my hand. “You have started. I hope it all goes well,” he said. Everything happened at once. He is an incredible person. I have never met anyone so positive, so clever and so amusing.