The expats' new profile

In recent months we have conducted a survey that demonstrates that attitudes of these select global businesspeople to Turkey and the Turkish business world...

24.09.2014 17:12:340
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The expats' new profile
The Expat Suite, which was founded by Capital, has 160 members drawn from foreign executives working in Turkey. In recent months we have conducted a survey that demonstrates that attitudes of these select global businesspeople to Turkey and the Turkish business world... The results of our survey, which was answered by 82 members of the Expat Suite, are striking.

More than 75 percent of the expats working in Turkey have ten years or more business experience. Almost 40 percent are taking Turkish lessons. They enjoy the social life and restaurants of Istanbul. They find that the lifestyle of the city is no different to that in the leading capitals of Europe. But they have been surprised by companies’ shortcomings in terms of corporate institutionalization and the excessive number of procedures. They are concerned about the political tensions. They don’t expect

to be in Turkey for a long time.OVER the last ten years, Turkey has been on a rising trend in terms of attracting foreign investors. This acceleration has resulted in both an increase in the number of foreign companies in the country and a rise in the number of foreign executives. It is not just the presence of foreign investors. The desire of companies in Turkey to be major players in the international arena has also increased the interest in foreign executives.

Many companies, from LC Waikiki to Casper, Kibar Holding and Yıldız Holding, which are trying to become more influential in the global arena today employ foreign executives in different positions. They are entrusting their important operations to foreign executives with experience in international companies. According to data from the Ministry of Labor, in the last eight years the number of foreigners who have received work permits has risen 4.5 fold.

Experts estimate that the number of expat specialists and executives who are working in Turkey is around 15,000. When their families are included, the expat population in Turkey is around 45,000. So who are these expats? What is their background in terms of business experience? How many years have they been in Turkey, where do they live and what do they think of the country where they are living. The Expat Profile survey provides the answers to all of these questions.~

According to the Expat Profile survey, the foreign executives in Turkey are mostly from Germany. 27.1 percent of the expats who participated in the survey were German citizens, followed by Italians with 16.2 percent, French citizens with 13.5 percent and Britons with 10.8 percent. On the other hand, there was considerable geographical diversity in terms of the origins of the expats.

For example, foreign executives working in companies in Turkey come from virtually every corner of the world, from Australia to Canada, Lebanon, India, Korea and Belgium. More than 45 percent of the expat businesspeople in Turkey have between 21 and 30 years of business experience. 29.8 percent have 11-20 years of experience. 18.9 percent have been working for over 30 years.

But it is possible to say that these expats who have spent so many years in the business community are relatively new to Turkey. 51 percent, namely more than half, of those who participated in the survey have been in Turkey for a maximum of five years. 27.1 percent have been here for 6-20 years. Only 8.1 percent have been in Turkey for more than 20 years.

Expat professionals live mostly along the Bosphorus in Istanbul and in the more lively districts in the city center. The expats favorite locations are headed by Beşiktaş, Sarıyer and Kemerburgaz. 16.2 percent of foreign executives live in Beşiktaş, 16.2 percent in Sarıyer and 13.6 percent in Kemerburgaz.

The remainder are distributed between Cihangir, Etiler, Kadıköy, Nişantaşı, Arnavutköy and Beykoz. Experts say that this shows that, when compared with Turkish executives, they earn higher salaries and, because they are living in a foreign country, they receive more fringe benefits. ~

The expat salary scales confirm the experts’ assessment. At 18 percent, a large proportion of foreign executives earn more than $100,000 a year. 13.5 percent say that they have annual earnings of over $150,000. But 70 percent of the executives preferred not to share details of their salaries.

Overall, the expats are happy with living in Turkey. They regard living standards as positive when compared with the average in Europe. But it is not that they have no complaints. BASF Turkey, Middle East and North Africa Region President and BASF Turkey CEO Volker Hammes says that, just like in Singapore and Hong Kong, Istanbul has high standards for foreigners in terms of business and social life.

He stresses the liveliness of the city with its restaurants and activities and continues as follows: “The traffic problem and the distant location of IB schools significantly reduce the quality of life.” Jones Lang LaSalle COO CF0 Volkan Müller also says that sometimes life in Turkey is difficult, “For expats it is a place where you live in an environment composed of just your expat friends and your family with wonderful restaurants and nightlife.”

Yapi Kredi Board Member and Deputy General Manager Carlo Vivaldi says that: “I have two daughters. They go to the British International School. I think the private education here is perfectly adequate.”

20 percent of those who participated in the Expat Profile say that the most important advantage that the business environment in Turkey provides them is that it gives them important experience of an economic conjuncture in a different country. 17.1 percent say: “I can follow the dynamics of developing markets more closely.”~

Galata Taşımacılık CEO and Deputy Board Chair Vittorio Zagia says that working life in Turkey is more focused on a single person and continues as follows: “There are too many one-man shows. For this reason, companies definitely need to listen to the voices coming from within and develop the company culture accordingly.”

Even though the majority are satisfied with their conditions, they are not planning to stay here for very long. 41.6 percent of expats plan to leave the country within five years, Gras Savoye Group’s Regional President Nolwenn Allano says that: “When we start a business here we expect success in 18 months. In other countries, the time you allow for success can be much longer.”


To date, on the international business markets Turkey has always been praised for its developing structure and rapidly growing economy. Its continually changing agenda means that foreigners regard it as an exciting country.

Click images to see the tables.
So what do the expats who live in this country and have personal experience of its business community think about the country? One in four of those who participated in the survey think: “It has a good economy but there is still some way to go.” One in five expats say: “It needs political stability.”

Again, one in five warn: “The laws and regulations concern foreign investors.” 18.5 percent of expats think that attitudes towards the country are increasingly changing for the negative. Those in this group say: “There is cause for concern for the future of the country.”

For example, OneWorld Consulting Partner Tim Bright describes it as “A growing market with a lot of opportunities” and highlights the development of the energy, health, retail, transportation, tourism and infrastructure sectors, But then he adds: “There are worries about the legal system and the state.” Mercedes-Benz Senior Executive Rudi Lenerz says that: “It was just that the language made things a little difficult.

Türkiye ve dünya ekonomisine yön veren gelişmeleri yorulmadan takip edebilmek için her yeni güne haber bültenimiz “Sabah Kahvesi” ile başlamak ister misiniz?


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