I was born in 1969 in Istanbul as the second child of a mother, who tried to contribute to the family budget by sewing and a father, who is a bank officer. Although I worked for a paycheck all my career, I had some entrepreneurial experiences in my childhood. I sold balloons in our neighborhood park, water in the bazaar, halva in Vefa Stadium, and bagels in the streets of Istanbul.
My brother was a very hardworking student and he always aimed to be in the top 1 percentile of his school. So I was always under pressure to keep up with him. I frequently heard the phrase “why don’t you work as hard as your brother?” Although I was not as a successful student as my brother, their administrators accepted my enrollment in Pertevniyal, which is one of the best high schools of our time, in hopes that I will start working as hard as my brother someday.
Because I was a social kid and played volleyball during high school, everyone expected the university entrance exams to be a big challenge for me. However, I did a fairly good job and scored high enough to enroll in Ankara University, Faculty of Political Science and International Relations. At that time, it was one of the top schools so everyone was surprised. My mom was proud but at the same was upset that I would study in another city away from Istanbul.
My education in Ankara started right after high school. My student life was tough, because my family did not have enough money to support two kids studying in the university around the same time. To cover my educational expenses, I started working as a driver in a car rental company. Making money was great, and on top of that I witnessed many important events of the time. For example, I took a Dutch TV crew to Southeastern part of Turkey to film the Kurdish refugees, who escaped from Saddam’s attacks in 1991 and the images of the refugees are still vivid in my memory as if I saw them yesterday. In addition to these unique experiences, I could drive the luxurious cars after work, which made me really popular at school.
My experience during my university education contributed to my life immensely. First of all, I realized that our country is a lot bigger and different than its largest city, Istanbul, where I grew up. Moreover, I met with very good people and became friends with them, who came from all over the country and added different perspectives to my vision about life. The most important development during those years is that I met Müge, who will become my wife later, and give me two lovely kids.
I graduated from university in 1991. After graduation I worked as a sales representative of the same car rental company I drove cars for in Ankara, but this time in their Antalya branch located in a hotel in Side, where I had one of my most enriching work experiences, meeting many people for 8 months. My paths crossed with Ankara again, but this time for my military service. When I was discharged from my unit in the Air Logistics Command in Ankara, the episode of my life in Ankara was over.
Though my college was famous for training the future high level government officials and bureaucrats, I was lured by the high salaries in the private banking industry. I started to work in Egebank in 1993 as an assistant inspector. I was promoted to marketing manager of Taksim Branch, which was the largest branch of Egebank in 1996. Later on, I worked as the manager of Levent Branch in 2000. However, the good days did not last for long. The banking crisis was in full swing in 2001. Egebank merged with Sumerbank. Later Oyakbank acquired Sumerbank and I continued to serve as the manager of the same branch but for Oyakbank.In this process, many people were let go, and eventually I were, too.
After searching for a new position for a while, I was invited to a meeting in a bank, which was growing rapidly. That bank started employing many bankers after the banking crisis of 2001 to increase its market share, and I started to work in this bank. I have worked as branch manager in various commercial and corporate branches and as the institutional allocation director in the headquarters of that bank.
Meanwhile, the most important thing I did while working was to start sailing. First, my friend and I modified a small motorboat with great hardships. It was a steep learning curve. We were interested in buying a well-designed sailing boat, unlike our first makeshift boat. I sailed in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas in rental boats. Traveling between Greek islands was a delightful experience for me. While I sailed, I started wondering if I could go faster than the boats sailing alongside me. Over time, we realized that my friends and I wanted to compete with other boats. So, we bought a sailing boat in 2009, and a year later formed a racing team of 4 people.
Initially, our race performances were disasters. We could not even finish some races, let alone win any cups. We trained regularly for a few years. We secured a sponsorship, which required us to attend a series of races frequently. We won the Turkish Off-Shore Racing Trophy, which included 20 races, in 2013. Our first boat was a dual-purpose vessel: racing and pleasure. We realized that we needed a boat that was designed for the sole purpose of racing. So we bought a second boat from Mustafa Koç, who was the richest person in Turkey. Our new boat was designed specifically for off-shore racing. Since then we have been racing in races with great success. Sometimes, the society becomes more interested in my career as the skipper of my sailing team instead of my career as a banker.
I’ve also had a brief TV experience, which lasted for 6 months. I acted as the producer and anchor of a market watch program called “Economic Rhythms” for Istanbul TV in 2004. In the last quarter of the 2004, the TV channel had so much financial difficulty that my program was moved to prime time to be broadcast live. Of course, I was not the anchor of a prime time program because of the extreme success of my program, but there was no other program that they broadcast within their budget at the time. My TV experience was over as the TV channel shut down soon after my adventure as an anchor in prime time.
Anyway, where were we in my professional life? My professional life in that bank ended in 2014 and after a period of job searching I was invited to work at Türk Eximbank’s insurance department, which opened new horizons for me. Türk Eximbank was looking for an experienced director, who would assess the companies’ creditworthiness. In the beginning, I was a bit hesitant, because I did not have any experience in insurance, but when I learned the technical details of the insurance business, I quickly grabbed the intricacies of my new profession. I have had the opportunity to go to various parts of the world to assess companies, and attend insurance conferences and meeting. I am still working at Türk Eximbank.
After all, I have 22 years of finance experience, 18 of which was focused on evaluation of company creditworthiness. I will share my experiences about credit insurance and sailing in my personal web site.
Thanks for reading.
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