Follow the Leader

Our leader on this adventure to Istanbul, Turkey, is Mr. Abdullah Akyuz. Mr. Akyuz is the President of TUSIAD-US, the U.S. Representative Office of Turkish Business Federation. Much like the US Business Roundtable, TUSIAD is comprised of the CEOs of the major industrial, financial and service companies in Turkey. Between 1983-1990, Abdullah Akyuz served on the Capital Markets Board, the Turkish equivalent of the SEC. In June 1990, he moved to the Istanbul Stock Exchange (ISE). In 1994, Mr. Akyuz became the Executive Vice-Chairman of the ISE, overseeing the operations of several departments until his departure from the ISE. Mr. Akyuz has also served as a Board Member of the ISE-Settlement and Custody Bank, Inc., as well as a member of Treasury’s “Domestic Borrowing Advisory Board”. Mr. Abdullah Akyuz received his B.A. degree in Economics and Finance from the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Ankara (1983), his M.A. degree in Economics from the University of California-Davis (1986), and graduated from Wharton School’s Advanced Management Program (1996).

When I first read his biography, I was very impressed. And confused. Why would he want to lead a group of MBA students on a trip to Turkey? I imagine the experience as something similar to herding cats, albeit well-educated cats. Curiosity got the best of me and Mr. Akyuz graciously answered a few of my questions.

1. If you had to describe Turkey in 5 words, which words would you choose?

People, sunshine, sea, food, Istanbul

2. Why do you want to lead a residency program in Turkey?

First of all, I like teaching as long as it isn’t my full-time job! Secondly, I know Turkey quite well and have very good connections there. As this residency program would give me an opportunity to put these two together, I did not hesitate to accept the offer.

3. What do you hope students get out of their group projects?

The projects students are doing will give them a great opportunity to understand a new country and culture as well as getting insights into a vibrant emerging economy. In this increasingly globalized economy, the roles played by the emerging markets (including Turkey) are going to be much more significant in the years to come. Therefore, I want my students to get as much as possible out of the program in terms of understanding the country, its people and its economy as well as establishing contacts with people from the business community. You never know, some of them may end up working in Turkey or in a Turkish firm. Even if their exposure to Turkey will not go any further than this residency, I want them to remember this as a positive experience, both professionally and personally.

4. What are you most looking forward to on our trip to Istanbul?

I look forward to seeing students getting excited as they meet new people in Istanbul and they get first hand information on the country, its people and economy. I’m sure there will be so many things that will surprise them. I would like to see their faces when they come accross such things.

5. In your opinion, what are the best sites to see, food to eat, places to visit, etc. in Istanbul? What are some “must-do” experiences?

There are so many of such places and things to do in Istanbul. I can’t list them here. I’ll share with my students an updated version of “my personal guide on Istanbul” that I’ve prepared for friends visiting Istanbul.

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