The view from Turkey

19 Apr 2016

The view from Turkey

Odgers Berndtson Turkey has been running a series of high-level events aimed at better understanding board and leadership issues

Everybody agrees that mature and effective leadership is more critical than ever in these turbulent and uncertain times. But it is also true that through close collaboration and the sharing of knowledge and experiences, we can bring fresh insights and novel approaches to solving these difficult challenges.

At Odgers Berndtson Turkey we have been bringing together industry leaders, role model executives and academics to create ad hoc collective knowledge platforms in which to share best practices and investigate critical board and leadership issues.

In the past two years, these have included a series of high-level meetings held under the general heading ‘New Generation Boards’ as part of our ongoing CEO and Board practice to help improve board dynamics.

Our most recent event was hosted by the Istanbul Stock Exchange, Borsa Istanbul, and organised by us in collaboration with the Corporate Governance Association of Turkey.

Some of the country’s top executives, representing a wide range of industries, from publishing to automotive to services, attended to hear the keynote delivered by Christian Wulff former President of Germany from 2010 to 2012, who shared his opinion on the ‘Three is for sustainable growth’ – inclusiveness, implementation, and investment – the focus of Turkey’s G20 Presidency.

This was the fifth gathering of the New Generation Boards meetings. Previous speakers, such as Ian Goldin, Professor of Globalisation at Oxford University, who served as Vice-President at the World Bank and advisor to Nelson Mandela, also stressed the importance of good governance beyond the corporate context.


  • Inclusiveness and increased diversity at board level, with members drawn from different social backgrounds and age groups, and especially an increased representation of women in board and senior executive roles, are crucial for better leadership and governance in the future.
  • Anti-corruption legislation and strict corporate governance principles can no longer be considered enough to prevent serious wrongdoing. Instead, companies need to build a corporate culture where each board decision is scrutinised carefully for its long-term implications, not just the short-term effect it can have on revenues.



Panel member Ali Kibar, chairman of Kibar Holding, a major industrial conglomerate active in the metal industry, said: “Every board should have a ‘Mr No’, a director who will challenge dominant ideas and, if necessary, directly oppose the views of the chair.” Panel member Agah Uğur, CEO of Borusan Holding, a leading conglomerate operating in iron and steel, energy and logistics said the presence of non-executive directors themselves did not guarantee board diversity “unless the board is truly prepared to share power and to listen to opposing ideas.” Panel member Vuslat Doğan Sabancı, chair of Turkey’s leading media group, Hürriyet, said: “Board diversity should include non-executive members from different industries and cultures. We started appointing non-executive directors 12 years ago with a long-term perspective, and our group has benefited from this.”