image courtesy of the World Economic Forum
- Chair, Sabancı Holding (Diversified)
Born Adana, Turkey, 1955. BBA, Boğaziçi University (1978).
“[I]t was a difficult period for Turkey—the ’60s… the ’70s… If you look at that period, to be able to grow and to do projects did require… analytical thinking, having a long-term vision, feeling the trends, and also taking risks in certain areas.”
Güler Sabancı, ranked the 64th most powerful woman by Forbes magazine in 2016, discusses the decisions that helped the Sabanci Group emerge as one of the leading business conglomerates in Turkey despite considerable political and economic turbulence over three decades. The Sabanci Group now consists of over 70 companies active in eleven countries. After college graduating in 1978, Sabanci, a member of the third generation of the founding family, joined the Group's new subsidiary manufacturing tires. In this interview, she recalls how challenging it was for the new subsdiary to succeed against the background of a military coup, and she describes how the venture came near to bankruptcy.
Sabanci also details the subsequent growth of the Group with joint ventures and licensing agreements with U.S., European and Japanese multinationals. During the 1990s, the Group professionalized its governance and management, despite major political and economic turbulence that culminated with the collapse of the entire Turkish financial system in 2001. The Group’s Akbank was the only Turkish bank which escaped nearly unscathed.
Sabanci explores the carefully-honed skills in managing cash flows and foreign exchange risk and explains how, over time, the Group developed competitive advantages in crisis management—both in turning around failed businesses and in building greenfield operations in turbulent conditions.