Portrait of Güler Sabancı in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung


guler_sabanci_100528_orjinal.jpgGermany's leading newspaper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, published a written portrait of Sabancı Holding's Chairman Ms Güler Sabancı. The article, based on an interview by Dr. Rainer Hermann, contained extensive writings on Ms Sabancı's career, the Turkish economy and on the goals of the Group.

At the beginning of the article, entitled "Anatolia's Super Woman", Güler Sabancı was introduced: "She is a seldom-seen example in Turkey: A modern, successful woman, in charge of a large group and who can achieve any objective that she likes. She makes wine, collects contemporary art, works to improve the status of women as well as managing one of the best Universities in Turkey, an international museum, and Sabancı Holding, one of the most important industrial groups in Turkey. The diversity apparent across such a range of clearly different operations and duties is not hard for Ms Sabancı to manage. As she says: ‘Multi-tasking is already a woman's strong point' ".

Moving on to the journey of Ms Sabancı's career, the article said "Güler Sabancı is a woman who grew up in men's world. Her grandfather, Hacı Ömer Sabancı, founded from scratch the group that now bears his name. He had six sons but no daughters. In the end, his first grandchild was a girl: Güler: "Sex discrimination was prevalent, sure." she confesses. However, this was not exactly the case for her. On the contrary, her grandfather and her uncles have always encouraged her. They never said: "You are a girl, you can't do it!" Her grandfather and all of her uncles were born in Kayseri and in Adana, both in central Anatolia. When her father İhsan Sabancı died in 1979, Güler Sabancı was 24 years old and her uncle, Sakıp Sabancı, took her under his wing. He showed her the way forward and was always with her. Güler Sabancı now knows that women and young people with talent need consultation and guidance, as well as encouragement and leadership from someone if they are to become successful. Her uncle was the chairman of the board of the holding company from 1966 to 2004, up until the day he died. When Sakıp Sabancı died, his two brothers Şevket and Erol were still then alive. However, it was his oldest grandchild, Güler Sabancı, who took charge of the company: a family consensus. Today, Güler Sabancı is responsible for 58,000 employees and sales totaling €10.5 billion over five business sectors.

The article also discussed Ms Sabancı's opinions on the differences between men and women. "In addition to their natural multi-tasking ability, women also have an "emotional-intelligence". She sees the ability to sympathize and empathize with others' feelings, beyond just one's own, as very important. "Leadership is the management of diversity". According to Güler Sabancı, this diversity does not only derive from sexual discrimination. Every person is different from each other, so the important thing is to understand others and to create a field in which they can be encouraged.


Underlining that Güler Sabancı can be separated from neither the Turkish economy nor its public opinion, the article continues: "She makes her presence felt but she doesn't draw attention to herself. He approach is to shake your hand with warm and sincere feeling. Her pioneering qualities are frequently noted. Publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and The Financial Times have all ranked her at the top of their lists of the "most powerful" and "most successful" women, but when questioned about this she politely avoids the question, saying: "Being recognized and appreciated is nice." She does not let such acclaim influence her actions and she does not like to be referred to as "powerful". To her, the expression is rather American and it might lead to misunderstandings. She thinks that the two important things are to change and to encourage change. As a result, she believes in success and she focuses on solutions and results."

The article also talked about Ms Sabancı's opinions on the image of Turkish people internationally. "She does not accept Turkey's international image, as it does not correspond to the real situation in Turkey. According to her, the idea of Turkey being undeveloped comes from intentional generalizations. "When they meet one, people still think that all Turks are the same." She says that Turkey is an energetic machine with a young, dynamic and open population. She says that Turkey has made a giant leap forward over the last decade. Turkey is still in its development phase in terms of growth and restructurings. She says, in her deep and warm voice - which could go quite well with any music band - that this is good, as it provides momentum. And she smiles again."


"Güler Sabancı is a role model of philanthropy. She knows there is still much to do, and she praises the energy of the NGOs that work for women - and the Sabancı Foundation does exactly that. For five years now it has been working to improve girls' and women's lives in Kars, Trabzon, Van, Urfa, İzmir and Nevşehir. The foundation brought over 2,000 male and female teachers from these cities to Sabancı University. The teachers learnt what rights women have in Turkey and how to interact with parents who don't want to send their children to school. She says "Social subjects need patience". "It may be necessary to wait five years, seven years and maybe longer to see any results." Güler Sabancı wants the foundation to care especially for women and the disabled. She says that since the start of its academic operations in 1999, Sabancı University has been one of the most liberal schools in Turkey. However, she says, it does need to gain a more international character. She personally took part in the process of preparing the foundation of the University. She was also the director of the operation to turn the family's villa in Istanbul's Emirgan district into the Sakıp Sabancı Museum. The museum itself opened in 2002. Since its opening it has hosted many exhibitions of artists such as Picasso, Dali and Miro. Güler Sabancı wants to add a new storey during the second decade of both the university and the museum".


Regarding the Turkish economy: "Güler Sabancı is not as patient in business life. Some haste is required here, especially because Turkey is still under development. Last year (2010) the economy grew by 8%. Güler Sabancı expects the group's total financial statements to increase at roughly that rate while the income gained from interest, taxes and discounts should increase by 15%. "In the new year we will be good again with a growth rate of 5% or more". Güler Sabancı also asserted back in 2005 that Turkey "would be China of Europe". "Now we are!". She says that turning into an engine for growth from a poor home affected by the crises was dependent on two factors: "On one hand, after the crisis in 2001 in which more than half of the banks went bankrupt, radical changes were implemented. The banking sector overcame the problems and even grew stronger; important areas were liberalized, the effect on the economy of populist policies was reduced and political discipline was implemented over the treasury. On the other hand, Turkey extended its portfolio of markets where it has turnover. When a recession hit Europe, other export markets remained open. Sabancı Holding was working in an area composed of five business sectors where it could take advantage of this boom. Güler Sabancı says "Turkey now gives us the opportunity to become both a local and a global player". She clearly sees Turkey's potential, because Turkey is in the right place to take advantage of the shift in the world's centre of gravity towards the east and Asia. Güler Sabancı wishes for peace across the region and for conflicts to be resolved so that all countries can grow, work more and provide better welfare"

The article also comments: "She has an interest in German culture as Ms Sabancı also pursues quality, productivity, effectiveness and perfection like German investors do. She says that she would be happy to cooperate more with German entrepreneurs on this issue"

And, in regards to Güler Sabancı's private life, "business life, her hobbies and her philanthropy are all interrelated. And yoga is not only a hobby, but an integral part of her life. Another important part of her life is collecting the works of, and encouraging, contemporary Turkish artists, an activity that she has been engaged in for 20 years now. While great leaps have been made in the arts in Turkey, its art should not only be limited to Istanbul. For this reason, she has set up a museum in Eastern Anatolia, in Mardin, in which she exhibits works by contemporary artists. Since 1994, the Sabancı Family has held a theater festival in Adana, and since 1994 Güler Sabancı has been producing, in Thrace, one of the best wines of all of Turkey. Turkey is actually one of the world's historical wine areas, and she has always liked to drink wine. The cabernet has been named "Gülor", the shiraz "G", with a merlot and sauvignon blanc to complete the portfolio. She thinks that it is a myth that Turks don't drink much wine because they are Muslim. Her clear belief is that wine production has been increasing since the state monopoly expired."

The article concluded: "Despite being the grandchild of Sabancı Holding's founder, her success and the path to the top were not offered to her on a silver tray. She has worked very hard to get to where she is today. And all this time she cared about what she was doing, rather than about herself: she always worked thinking that this was her last job. And this is her advice to every woman who wants to progress in their career".