Organized by the MBA clubs of Sabancı University and Bilkent University, MBA Forum 2009 was held in the southern city of Antalya over the weekend. Senior executives of Turkey’s leading companies attended the forum to share their experiences with MBA students.
Focused on four main topics, namely leadership, entrepreneurship, innovation and branding, MBA Forum 2009 witnessed a barrage of questions from MBA students to executives.
Speaking on productivity in business life, Kamil Gökhan Bozkurt, human resources chief of Türk Telekom, addressed MBA students as "CEO candidates of the future."
"The MBA is a general program. What is crucial during this program is to decide which specific way you will take. This decision will affect your career path in the future," Bozkurt said.
Collective intelligence as opposed to individual action
Highlighting the importance of using collective intelligence instead of acting individually to achieve productivity, Bozkurt also said especially European and American companies implement this principle well, although they are perceived as "individualistic societies."
Defining productivity as "displaying the right behavior at the right time and place" Bozkurt listed the elements for success in business life as self-confidence, will to struggle, planned endeavor and avoidance from emotional behavior.
Galya Frayman Molinas, chief executive of Coca-Cola İçecek, said the organization is a great opportunity to prepare potential directors for their career journey in the 21st century.
"Coca-Cola multiplied its sales together with the profit margins when it diverged from the ’one size fits all’ approach to a segmented approach," Molinas said. "The company employs around 20,000 people just in Turkey."
Molinas said consistency and continuity are key factors in business success. "The primary focus in the business world is to achieve sustainable growth," Molinas said. "There are four main elements to this: marketplace, communities, workplace and environment."
Bringing a different perspective to the meeting, Hüsnü Özyeğin, chairman of the board of directors at Fiba Holding, stressed the importance of a social personality for a successful business life. "What MBA programs lack in general is a clear development plan," he said. "The factors of change and coincidence are also determinant along the career path."
"It is not so much important for a senior director to know the sector he works in very well," said Özyeğin, adding that the most important factor in business life is to have management skills, which include follow-up work, motivating employees and having a clear road map.
Answering a question on whether he has made any important mistake that might have affected his life or career, Özyeğin said he did a lot. "However, what is important is to make small-scale mistakes while achieving large scale successes."
Spotting employees with high potential
Highlighting "the desire to learn" as the crucial factor in managing businesses, Tayfun Bayazıt, chief executive of Yapı Kredi Bank, said experience plays a very important role in business life. "However, more important than that is to determine the high-potential employees and orient them into professional life as soon as possible."
Tarık Bayazıt, partner of Changa Restaurants, on the other hand, mentioned the difference between pursuing a career in a corporate business and setting up one’s own business. "I advise you to do the job which makes you happy the most. Do not be afraid of the job you do not know well. Maybe this is the very place of your success and happiness."
Disagreeing with Bayazıt, Burhan Karaçam, the former chief executive of Yapı Kredi, advised MBA students either to gain a good knowledge base before starting a job or to do the job they know well. "This is not a good time to risk your time and energy," he said.
MBA, or Master of Business Administration, is a master's degree in business administration, attracting people from various academic disciplines. The MBA designation originated in the United States as companies sought out scientific approaches to management.