Turkey is the rising star of developing countries.. The growth in the number of companies entering the country through mergers and acquisitions has also increased the number of foreign executives and employees in Turkey. Experts says that in the last three years the rate of increase in the number of foreign executives and employees has reached 300 percent. This growth is expected to continue in the years ahead as more foreigners enter the Turkish labor market not just in the higher echelons but also at lower levels.
In recent years, there has been a rapid increase in the number of foreign executives in Turkey. This trend is confirmed by headhunters and companies’ human resources executives. Korn Ferry International Turkish President and Managing Partner Şerif Kaynar says: “Last year we placed 12 foreign general managers. There has been a very large increase in the number of expats compared with previous years.” Heidrick & Struggles Turkey Managing Partner Ayşegül Aydın says that they too have noticed a growth in the number of foreign executives, particularly at CEO, board member and general manager level.
It is not just at the level of general manger, the number of expats at middle management level is almost rising virtually by the day. Some analysts say that over the last two years the rate of increase has reached 300 percent. There are several reasons for this growth. Analysts say that the most important reason is the combination of Turkey’s increasing attractiveness and the global economic recession. The economic recession in their own countries make some foreign executives keener to work in a country like Turkey which has a high potential for growth. In addition, they regard Turkey as a great opportunity to acquire different perspectives and have different experiences.
What Are The Reasons For The Increase?
The rise in executives’ salaries in the last few years is another factor which has made the country more attractive for foreign executives. Human resources executives note that there has been a significant increase in executives’ salaries in Turkey over the last three years. Indeed, they say that, in terms of executives’ salaries, Turkey is now the third most expensive country in Europe after Britain and Germany. “It is no longer very expensive for a company in Turkey to bring in a foreign executive,” says Stanton Chase Turkey President Çağrı Alkaya, adding that the rise in executives’ salaries occurred in parallel to the growth in the number of foreign executives.
Another factor fuelling the increase has been the rapid rise in the number of foreign companies entering Turkey over the last five years. It has been noted that companies which are entering Turkey for the first time prefer to work with foreign executives until their systems are established and that this has also increased the number of foreign executives in the country. OneWorld Consulting Turkey President Tim Bright says: “The companies bring in foreign executives because they need people who know the companies’ own processes, culture, products and services well. In the future, I expect an increase in foreign executives not just at the general manager level but also in the lower level positions.”
The list of sectors which have seen the greatest increase in the number of foreign executives and employees is headed by information technology, pharmaceuticals, consumption, finance, automotives and energy.
In Which Companies Has There Been An Increase?
When we look at the companies themselves, then the situation described by the analysts is very clear. Three years ago the number of foreigners working at Metro Cash & Carry was 11. This year the number reached 19. Three years ago, there were 10 foreigners at Honda. As of 2008, the figure had risen to 17. The reasons for the increase in the number of foreign executives and employees vary according to the particular conditions at the companies themselves. For example, the acquisition of Telsim by Vodafone resulted in a record growth in the number of foreigners employed in the company. In 2005, the company employed only 15 foreigners. As of this year, the number of foreign employees stood at 27. Vodafone officials confirm that this increase occurred after the acquisition process.
Fortis CEO Yvan De Cock says that the number of their foreign executives and employees has increased. Cock sees this as a natural result of globalization, and adds: “Stability and a strong economic performance have attracted a lot of direct investment to the country. In addition, we have seen many mergers and acquisitions. All of these developments have resulted in the creation of new positions for foreign executives.”
Those Who Have Been In Turkey For A Long Time
Although companies which have entered Turkey in the last few years employ more foreigners, those foreign companies which have been active in Turkey for many years adopt a different approach. Companies which are well-established in Turkey are seen to employ a smaller number of foreign executives.
One of these companies is Xerox Turkey. Xerox Turkey HR Director Ayşıl Akcanbaş notes that currently only one of their 300 employees is a foreigner. Akcanbaş says: “That person is Xerox Turkey Finance Director Sheckhar Pylur.” Ayşıl Akcanbaş explained that Xerox had not increased the number of its foreign employees for years and, on the contrary, had actually reduced them. Xerox’s policy of giving priority to existing human resources in the countries in which it is active played an important role in the trend towards reduction.
Foreign capital companies conduct extensive technology transfers in the markets which they enter. For this reason, foreign experts are appointed to key positions because they are thought to be able to work with the new technology more effectively and in an integrated matter. Foreign executives are employed in Mercedes-Benz Turkey, particularly in high level management positions, in order to ensure the necessary data transfers. Mercedes-Benz Human Resources Manager Salih Ertör says that there has been a decline in the number of foreign personnel on an annual basis and continues: “In 2006, 2007 and the first six months of 2008, the number of our foreign executives fell to its lowest level. The reason for this is the existing performance/potential and the success of effectively applied career management instruments. There is an important issue here, which is to prepare local candidates with potential quickly for relevant positions and ensure that these candidates are able to receive support from headquarters on every topic.”