On the 13th February seven lucky MSc Management students were given the opportunity to take part in a Business Tour to Istanbul, Turkey. Students first had to pass a test and write a personal statement outlining why they should be given this opportunity. After all their hard work, rigorous selection and a 4 hour flight, they finally landed in Attaturk airport where they were met with harsh weather conditions and a flurry of Turkish traffic!
The students along with Dr Grahame Fallon, the MSc Management course director, and Francesca Vitale, the BBS Alumni and Rankings representative, were met by a representative from Galatasaray University and taken to their hotel in the Ortakoy district. Galatasaray University has a distinctive past of more than 500 years in education and training and is one of the most important members of the Galatasaray Community. It was first established in 1481 by Sultan Beyazit II and was called the Galata Palace, still bearing Palace like features today!Following a traditional Turkish dinner of kebabs and lots of Lahmacun, dough topped with mincemeat which slightly resembled the appearance of a pizza, the staff and students settled into the hotel before their hectic schedules were to begin the next day…
Up bright and early for a buffet breakfast, the group started off the next day with their first company visit to Deloitte’s. Professor Mustafa Ozbilgin met the Business Tour group for this part of their trip where his Turkish background and language skills came in extremely useful! Towering above the city of Istanbul in a skyscraper to rival those in New York, Deloitte’s introduced themselves as one of the biggest professional services in the world. With 180,000 employees in over 150 countries across the globe, providing audit, tax, consulting, enterprise risk and financial advisory services, Deloitte’s has been ranked in BusinessWeek’s top 50 places to launch a career.
The students were invited to ask questions throughout the presentation from Deloitte’s and found out some very interesting facts surrounding the Turkish economy, notably that Turkish companies are reluctant to offer work permits to Non-Turks due to the high level of unemployment within Turkish people.After a tour around the company building, Deloitte’s treated the group to a Valentine’s Day lunch before they headed back to Galatasaray University for a seminar with DEKON Congress and Tourism Company.
The hectic schedule continued with a Welcome Reception from the Turkish University in a venue which was specifically made for their Alumni Association. Galatasaray has a huge Alumni network who regularly meet for dinners and networking events. All graduates of the university have an important role to be able to continue to increase their success and succeed in the Galatasaray mission which is to create an association of graduates who are in constant connection with each other, and who must strengthen the synergy created by this new collaboration to benefit both the University and country. To conclude the group’s first day, dinner was served in a delightful restaurant overlooking the Bosphorus Bridge which was lit up phenomenally in the dark sky.
Wednesday morning hit with a spell of snow, and an hour long journey in the minibus for another company visit. Mars Logistics Group gave a stimulating presentation surrounding their company, a well-established corporate logistics company providing impeccable road, air, sea, fair and events logistics, rail freight, customs clearance, insurance and logistics solutions. The study group put on their hi viz jackets and were able to witness the warehouse and distribution process for themselves and enjoyed learning about all aspects of the company, from the Marketing department to their customer relationship strategy. The last full day and final company visit was to a family textile business, Aster Tekstil who specialize in women’s and children’s clothing. They design and produce for well-known brands such as Marks and Spencer’s, Reiss and Mango which definitely caught the attention of all the girls on in the Study Tour group! The girls were in for another treat when the company representative
allowed the group to glimpse their designs for the new season, speak to the designers about their work and actually explore the production facilities where employees were hard at work! It is evident that family businesses are a lot more common in Turkey than the UK but the company expressed that this has both its advantages and disadvantages. After yet more delicious Turkish food in the company canteen, the group headed back to the University for a seminar with Ali Agaoglu, an Economist and Editor of Fortune Magazine.
Before heading back home on the Friday, the group had some free time to enjoy the sights of Istanbul, stock up on Turkish delights and barter in the world’s largest and oldest indoor market, the Grand Bazaar!
The 5 days spent in Istanbul for the Study Tour were thoroughly enjoyed by the staff and students, and the representatives from Galatasaray University provided excellent hospitality and support. They organized a fantastic schedule filled with both practical and social activities where all parties involved learnt a great deal about the Turkish economy and culture. Sibel Yamak, a Professor of Management at Galatasaray University concluded that: “It was a pleasure for me as well as for my colleagues to meet you, Mustafa and your students in Istanbul! We will be most pleased to repeat this experience any time in the future!”