Guler Sabancı was a guest of CNBC Europe...


Guler_Sabancıo_320x240.jpg- "The core of my management style is TEAMWORK"


Sabancı Holding Chairman Guler Sabancı was a guest of "The Leaders" aired on CNBC Europe. At the interview conducted by Simon Hobbs, Guler Sabancı was portrayed comprehensively in her business life, leadership characteristics, and social responsibility activities.  The interview started with the announcement that Guler Sabancı had doubled the income of the Group within four years, and she was one of the most prominent female personalities in Turkey.

  • - Sabancı's way of leadership...

Guler Sabancı answered the questions about her leadership aspect as follows: "I exchange opinions.  I communicate.  I do not give orders.  We come to a point on which we agree, by mutual discussion among my colleagues and I.   Thus the implementation gets much easier."

Guler Sabancı said in continuation: "The first 4 to 5 years by the beginning of my career was a very tough time.  We were managing a crisis.  But we were learning a lot.  We noticed that it was not merely the results which were important.  The major success in business life was to assign the right person to the right job, at the right time.  To do so, one should well understand a human being; his or her ambitions, strengths and weaknesses.  And this requires much more than what is contained in a CV."

Sabancı defined the secret of a successful partnership as follows: "You must know where you want to reach, and how you can do so within the shortest time.  A partnership can become successful only if the long-term strategies of the parties are parallel to each other, and the parties are clear and explicit about their contribution to such partnership."

Presenter Simon Hobbs commented: "While you bring the modernism to the Turkish public with the Picasso exhibition, and create value directly through the foreign investment, on the one hand; you do support the EU accession process, on the other hand.  The presence of a philosophy is felt in the very heart of what you have been doing."  Regarding her support for the EU accession, Sabancı explained: "The long-term position of Turkey is tied with the European Union.  Becoming part of the EU is no revolution for Turkey, but an evolution."

Related to the contribution of late Sakip Sabancı to her career, Guler Sabancı said: "My Uncle Sakip was my boss and my mentor.  Consequently, he used to know my strengths and abilities.  He used to test me with the projects he gave.  Besides, you know very little about yourself at those ages.  Someone like him observes you, analysis you, and teaches you a lot about yourself."

- Social responsibility activities...

Guler Sabancı imparted information about the Sabancı University, and the social responsibility approach of the Group.  "Haci Omer Sabancı was a highly respected person.  He was known to be righteous and morally upright.  He used to work very hard, and share with the society what he earned."  And, "We were discussing with Sakip Bey the University, the Museum, and his philanthropic projects even during the final moments of his life.  These were extremely important points for both him and the family.  He always believed that it was our activities in the field of social responsibility what had led to the public favour and acceptance of the Sabancı brand," she added.

Sabancı narrated the foundation of the University as follows:  "We have created schools, hospitals, cultural centres nationwide in Turkey.  120 projects had been implemented until the foundation of the University.  My Uncles asked me to found the University.  "To found and continuously develop a university is a project for the future, and the future belongs to young people like you."  They delegated the responsibility to me.  This proves how farsighted they were.  It was somewhat a heavy burden.  Above all we held a search conference.  Opinions were shared mutually with names working in various fields worldwide, during 2.5 days.  We elaborated the definition of the University of the 21st Century.  We have been living in a highly complicated world.  A single discipline of thought cannot be a solution to the problems.  Flexibility is a must.  For instance, there is no hierarchy at our University."

-The Sabancı Group...

In the second part of the interview, Guler Sabancı answered the questions about the process of her stepping up to the position of the chairman, restructuring of the Sabancı Group, and its targets.

Regarding the investment atmosphere in Turkey, Sabancı said:  "Turkey is an attractive country for investment, but if foreign nationals happen to invest in Turkey, I would like Sabancı to be given priority."

At the interview where mention was also made of the importance attached to the corporate governance in Sabancı Group, she stated:  "We have upgraded our way of doing business to a more corporate and professional structure.  We have however tried to avoid that this becomes a highly bureaucratic one.  We have not only focused on decreasing the number of SBU's, but decreased the number of the organisational stages, as well.

Upon her statement that they had targeted to lower the share of financial services much earlier than the outbreak of the global crisis, and the question regarding the reasons of the sale of 20% of Akbank to Citibank, Sabancı said:  "We feel proud of the results of Akbank, and its contribution to our consolidated results.  However, of course our other businesses do their best to catch up with the growth of Akbank."

"Acquiring at the right time, selling at the right time, thus creating value, all constitute the inevitable indicator of a successful management," added Sabancı.

"I believe that we will be in a relatively better situation than the competition by the end of the year.  We have set growth targets in merely a few fields in a year such as 2009.  Our target consists of maintaining our other businesses, cash management, and staying liquid," Sabancı said about their short-run targets.