Merve Ciplak
Home Region

Ankara, Turkey

Undergrad Education

Koc University

Previous Experience

UN Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials / Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, Bain, World Food Programme, Goldman Sachs, Brandeval

HBS Activities

HBS Show, Wine & Cuisine Society

“Being in this kind of classroom allows you to get to core issues faster.”

As a management consultant with Bain & Co. in Istanbul, Merve Ciplak had “almost complete freedom” to work for up to six months, without penalty, in any industry of her choice on an ‘externship’ from the firm.

Merve applied the opportunity to serve the U.N.’s World Food Programme based in Rome. “I worked with a small group of former consultants,” she says, “who become the Innovation and Change Management Team for the Programme. We worked with operations teams all over the world, doing ad hoc consulting projects for field offices that didn’t have their own resources.”

While consulting for the U.N., “I figured out I really liked interacting with client teams, especially in nonprofits within a global development context.”

Pursuing law and business to unite the public and the private

The combined impact of her consulting and nonprofit experiences brought focus to Merve’s ambitions. She wanted to find a way to “marry the fast pace and high intellectual caliber of the private sector with my inherent interest in giving back to the global sphere.”

Long attracted to law school as a way to pursue her “interest in morality and ethics from a philosophical perspective,” Merve added an MBA because, “I saw it as the seminal private industry degree.”

Merve believes the combined JD/MBA degree best positions her for leadership in a rapidly changing world. “Today, businesses are creating innovations that law and governments struggle to keep up with. As business becomes more involved in the way society operates, it creates responsibilities that weren’t present before.”

After completing her first year with Harvard Law School, Merve is fulfilling her RC year with HBS. “The fundamental thing about the HBS experience,” she says, “is that you take all your first-year classes with the same people. Because of that continuity, it’s more than just learning hard skills – it’s about learning from many types of experiences and perspectives. Being in this kind of classroom allows you to get to core issues faster, because you understand personalities as well as ideas. We can move beyond the small talk and get right to it, building off of conversations that may have started five months ago but remain relevant now.”

The diversity Merve values has an impact on her ambitions as well. “I don’t feel pressured to fulfill one kind of path,” she says. “Instead, HBS offers a diverse source of inspiration for considering questions or career paths.”

Last summer, Merve interned in Cambodia, where she supported that nation’s judicial system with its Khmer Rouge trials. This summer, she hopes to participate in a “boutique brand consultancy” founded by HBS alums.

After graduation, Merve will return to Bain & Co. for at least two years. Eventually, Merve “wants to be somewhere I can have global impact, perhaps within an inter-governmental organization or a nonprofit.”