What Do They Think Of Turkish Executives?

“Turkish executives are hardworking, flexible, calm in the face of risks, quick and ready to learn. It is because of these and many other positive characteristics they have come to the fore on a gl...

1.09.2008 03:00:000
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“Turkish executives are hardworking, flexible, calm in the face of risks, quick and ready to learn. It is because of these and many other positive characteristics they have come to the fore on a global scale.” This is how experts describe the positive characteristics of Turkish executives. All well and good, but how do expats who have come from another country, from another culture, find Turkish executives? What characteristics do they admire, and where do they think they are weak? We wanted to create a profile of the Turkish executive as seen through the eyes of expats.

In recent years, Turkish executives have been on the rise in the world. Those who have become famous by rising to higher positions in international companies have increased the power of Turks in the world of business. The most recent striking example of this has been the rise of Muhtar Kent, who has been appointed CEO of Coca Cola, the most valuable brand in the world.

So, how did this happen? How did Turkish executives suddenly begin to play in the executives’ premier league?

Many experts believes that it is the result of the progress that Turkey has made over the last few years. 

The experience acquired by the Turkish business world  through the ups and downs and series of crises has reshaped Turkish executives. It has given them long-lasting lessons, made them more flexible and coolheaded at difficult times.

Now companies looking to enter the Turkish market or grow in Turkey are much keener and braver than before in terms of handing over their businesses and futures to Turkish executives. This is how it looks from the Turkish perspective. But what do foreigners who serve in high-ranking positions in Turkey have to say about this situation? How do they find their Turkish colleagues in the Turkish business world and how do they rate their performances. Briefly, apart from what we already know, what do they think about Turkish executives’ strong and weak points.

We tried to learn the profile of the Turkish executive from the expats’ perspective.

They Have Considerable Global Experience
Steve Newton, who heads the Turkish operations of the Mazda European Organization, begins his response by saying that first of all that he thinks that Turkish general managers are very successful.

Newton stresses that training and experience abroad have played their part in this success: “The global experience many of them have acquired through working abroad has played a major role in their success. I think that this is one of the main reasons that today there are so many Turkish executives in the higher management of foreign companies active in Turkey,” he says. Steve Newton believes that another reason for Turkish executives being successful is that they know the market very well. He expresses his thoughts on this subject as follows: “Of course, the fact that they know the Turkish market extremely well and follow Turks’ preferences and trends is another plus for them.”

Ambitious And Hardworking
The first thing that Sony General Manager Moohsen Noohi says about Turks is that they are able to work long hours. Noohi notes that their Turkish team is composed of people who are very talented in terms of being able to make decisions. “They are ambitious and determined to make the company successful. They believe in the company,” he says, and then makes the following comparison between Turks and Germans. “Germans are hardworking but more disciplined. They have some balances in their working lives and they try to protect them. I don’t believe that differences between countries can change people. The difference comes from the people themselves. I mean, my employees include hardworking Germans and hardworking Turks. What is important is to employ the right people in the company.”

Turks Know How To Manage Crises
 DHL Express Middle East, North Africa and Turkey regional Director Michel Akavi thinks that Turkish general managers are very good at crisis management and business management. “They are particularly effective when it comes to financial control and the use of existing resources,” he says. In addition to these strong points, Akavi also believes that Turkish executives have weak points. He describes the weak points he observes as follows: “I see the traces of family company culture in Turkish general managers. My observations are that they have still not moved beyond the process of issuing directives. This prevents personnel from developing themselves. I believe that they should establish open communications platforms and try to include them in the business process.”

They Are Both Ambitious And Like To Have Fun
Reckitt Benckiser Turkey General Manager Richard Neegard is very happy with the working environment in Turkey. He thinks that Turks have their own way of working and continues as follows: “Turks have their own way of working. For this reason, I am very happy to be working and living here. When I divide employees into Mediterraneans and others, I notice that Turks have characteristics which are compatible with both groups. Mediterranean people are very sociable and enjoy relaxed lifestyles, but they are not very productive in the workplace. The others are employees who are very serious in their work and very ambitious but they don’t enjoy themselves. Turks are both very ambitious for success and love to have fun. For this reason, when you look at the executives in multinational companies, you generally see Turkish executives. When global brands come to Turkey they only feel the need for expats for a very short time. After this brief period, Turkish executives can easily take over at the head of the company.”

The Decision-Making Style Is From The Top Down
HP Turkey Operations Manager Achim Baumgartner says that most of the Turkish general managers that he knows work in the offices of foreign companies.

The Global Executives In Foreign Companies
 He said that the executives here work in accordance with the prevailing corporate culture and do not display many of the characteristics that come with being Turkish.

In Domestic Companies They Are Hardworking And Distant Baumgartner thinks that what differentiates Turkish executives from members of other nations becomes more apparent in traditional domestic companies. He explains his observations about the strong and weak points of his Turkish colleagues who work in this kind of company as follows: “The general managers play a more powerful role here. Because the structure of these companies has a tighter hierarchy. The employees are more respectful and distant.

They Love To Attend Meetings
 In terms of management style, the dominant concept when it comes to communications and decision-making is from the top down. And Turkish executives love to participate in and talk at meetings and activities which are open to the public.

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