Gülsüm Azeri 

  • Group President, Şişecam; CEO, OMV Petrol Ofisi (Chemicals and glass; Petroleum)
Born in 1951 in Hendek, Turkey. BSc. Chemical Engineering, Boğaziçi University (1975); MBA Industrial Engineering, Boğaziçi University (1977).
“[B]eing an engineer always helped me. I went for R&D. If there wasn’t sufficient R&D, I formed it...”

Video Clips

Azeri discusses how she took a "courageous" decision to change the environmentally hazardous production process for sodium bichromate at a substantial cost.

Azeri discusses the history and strategy of Paşabahçe’s entry into the Russian market.

Azeri describes the challenges of closing down a loss-making factory and her negotiation strategy with the labor unions.

 Full-length video (accessible to holders of a valid Harvard ID)


Gulsum Azeri relates her career running Şişecam, an industrial group that produces glass and chemicals, and becoming CEO of OMV Petrol Ofisi, a leading Turkish petroleum company. As a trained chemical and industrial engineer, Azeri is a pioneer for women in high-technology industries. She has a global education, having been trained at Austrian and American-run schools. In this interview, she discusses joining Şişecam at a time when the company was looking to expand globally. After supervising chemical production at a factory in Mersin, Turkey, she was made head of global sales and marketing of sodium bichromate and other products worldwide. In describing her rise in the company, Azeri highlights the relentless need for innovation in entering new product categories in glassware and chemicals and the ways these efforts required not only technological skills but also financial acumen.

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  • “Lasting and Growing Investments of Sisecam in Bulgaria,”Radio Bulgaria, October 2, 2011.
  • "Securing Supplies: OBG Talks to Gülsüm Azeri, CEO, OMV Turkey.
  • "Gulsum Azeri: Passion and Purpose,"TurkishWIN,April 21, 2014.
  • Fortune Türkiye profile, April 2014.
  • Datamonitor, OMV AG SWOT Analysis, 2008-2013.
  • Önder Küçükerman,Istanbul’ da 500 yıllıik sanayi yarışı. A 500 Years’ Heritage in Istanbul: The Turkish Glass Industry and Şişecam. Türkiye Şişe ve Cam Fabrikaları A.Ş., c.1999.
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  • Şevket Pamuk, Turkiye'nin 200 Yıllık İktisadi Tarihi. Is Bankasi Kultur Yayinlari, 2014.
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  • Roger Owen and Şevket Pamuk, A History of the Middle East Economies in the Twentieth Century. London: I.B. Tauris Publishers, 1998.
  • Ayşe Buğra, State and Business in Modern Turkey: A Comparative Study. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 1994.
  • Video file of this interview available at Baker Library Historical Collections, histcollref+hbs.edu. Harvard ID holders can access the full-length video above.

  • Interview citation: "Interview with Gülsüm Azeri, interviewed by Aslı Colpan, April 29, 2014, Creating Emerging Markets Project, Baker Library Historical Collections, Harvard Business School, http://www.hbs.edu/businesshistory/emerging-markets/."