Orkun Kilic
Orkun Kilic
Home Region

Istanbul, Turkey

Undergrad Education

Koc University, 04 BA Business Administration and Economics

Previous Experience

Fiba Capital Holdings, Istanbul

HBS Activities

VC/PE Club, Finance Club, Outdoors Club, Sailing Club

“Every eighty minutes is like a small slice of real-world problems.”

Sometimes leadership is cultivated over a period of years; other times it arises in the moment. When an earthquake struck Istanbul in 1999, Orkun Kilic immediately seized the initiative and led a team that saved three people from the rubble. The next day, he organized a larger group to raise money for victims of the disaster. "In a team, you don't want to maximize your utility, but the utility of the entire team," Orkun says. "The team's success is your success."

That insight became part of the inspiration behind his application to HBS. Even when he was at college, the MBA – and HBS – were already part of Orkun's ambitions. Subsequent private equity work in London, where he concentrated on central and eastern Europe and the Middle East, reinforced his plans. "I'm technically strong and have a master's degree in financial engineering," Orkun says. "But I want better people skills: how to negotiate; how to listen; how to build constructive relationships."

A education in intensity

"The case method is really intense," says Orkun. "Every eighty minutes is like a small slice of real-world problems." As an example of the transformative nature of the classroom, Orkun sites a case rooted in financial analysis. "With my experience, I came in thinking I was king," he says. "But a colleague who knew little about financial models asked simple questions I couldn't answer. I had to ask myself why I was using formulas I had been using for three years. Challenges like this have made me much stronger."

HBS has also changed Orkun's perspective on leadership. "I used to think leadership was dictatorship," he says. "But I've learned that there's no one type of leadership." While participating in the Subarctic Survival Situation – in which teams respond to a hypothetical airplane crash in the wilderness – Orkun found himself in a new kind of role. "I thought I was good at crisis management, but we had a colleague with fifteen years of military experience. I realized it was not time for me to lead, but for him to lead. Sometimes choosing not to lead is the right leadership choice." Orkun's team reached the top five percent of its class.

Future in emerging markets

"The first and last name in business schools in central and eastern Europe is HBS," Orkun says. After graduation, he plans on leveraging his MBA to pursue private equity opportunities in those areas and in the Middle East. "I'm especially interested in healthcare and infrastructure," says Orkun. "When you improve health and infrastructure in emerging markets, everyone wins – investors get their return on investment, and the citizens of these countries see improvements in the quality of their lives."