Posted by: HijaBella | January 25, 2009

Turkey’s first lady of finance

Salaam aleykum sisters, I found an article about one  of my perfect idols, a succesful business lady Guler Sabanci. Here is an excerpt of the article:

Turkey Sabanci Holding

(CNN) — Throughout Turkey, Sabanci Holding is a byword for success. And its boss, Guler Sabanci, is the embodiment of the professional dynamism that has helped make Turkey one of the most feted new markets in the world. 

She’s the first woman to head a multi-billion dollar conglomerate, the first woman to sit on the board of Turkey’s influential Businessman’s Association, the first lady of Turkish finance.

At just 53 years old, Sabanci is already an icon and when she speaks Turks listen.


Her grandfather Haci, a rags-to-riches cotton sharecropper from the southern province of Adana, built the Sabanci conglomerate in the 1940s. The business was passed down to his son Sakip in the 1960s. Before his death in 2004, Sakip handed the reins of this venerable empire to Guler, his single niece, who was head of the company’s tire division — overlooking his brothers and their numerous male offspring.

In Turkey’s patriarchal commerce sector, the decision was nothing short of earth-shattering.

“I started working there and it was a man’s world. It was a… I should not say it was difficult, but it was different and I adapted and they adapted to me.”

As head of the tire division, a post she held for 14 years and one that earned her the nickname “Rubber Queen”, she initiated partnerships with global heavy hitters such as DuPont and expanded the groups operations into Latin America and Europe. It was this business acumen, she insists, which led her uncle to break with tradition and name her chairperson.

“I felt myself qualified, I felt myself good at what I was doing and I didn’t expect any other behavior from others. I didn’t ask anything different and I worked and I completed and I was successful at what I was doing.”

From her sleek headquarters in Istanbul, Sabanci presides over a collection of 70 companies, more than 50 thousand employees in more than 10 countries with interests in areas as diverse as banking, food and retail, to name a few.

Under her watch, the company’s earnings have soared, with a consolidated net income topping $350 million in 2006. Such a pedigree earned her a place in Fortune Magazine’s 50 most powerful Women in Business.

She is a government advisor, a frequent commentator on news channels and a passionate advocate for Turkey’s membership to the European Union.

As arguably the most famous woman in Turkey, her name is a must on any party of note. In fact, she says her calendar is booked a year in advance.

Despite her popularity, she prefers to spend her limited free time fostering what she calls a climate of creativity.

“I feel what makes me more successful is not only the business interests I have, but my interests and my love of life. And that can only be fulfilled properly if I feel myself that I am sharing, giving and learning and receiving. So it is a whole thing that makes a person, completes the circle.”

Sabanci, whose grandfather started out life in destitution, wanted to create a level academic playing field for as many young Turks as possible; to create an environment where students may openly debate the merits of the free flow of capital and a free market for ideas.


Cenk Alperdem, a student at the university, says, “She encourages students to be different and I think this is how I will remember her for the rest of my life.”


Lady you rock! I think we need much more powerful women like you in business AND society. Sometimes I’m really asking myself, why not to go to Turkey and  work for Sabanci someday?” In order to show the WHOLE world how confident, talented and clever a Hijabi could be.  In any case, there is no hesitation that it would be an interesting challenge for me …



  1. This woman is sooooooo amazing.
    I really admire her.
    Allthough she had so many male competitors, she really made it.
    Indeed,It is really true that everyone in Turkey knows who Güler Sabanci is.

    You don’t have to hesitate. The Sabanci company is very large and successful. I think that you may have good chances to work your way up to the top!
    thanx for the post ( good work : ) )

  2. Besides I like her name Guler. That means “smiling”. It sounds so positiv : )

    Oh, thank you honey, perhaps one day we’ll reach the top of Sabanci or another succesful company together. I mean Allah gave us intelligence, and we shouldn’t waste it.” : ))

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