We were at the Best Auto-manufacturing plant in Europe!! The Ford Otosan Auto-manufacturing plant is located in Kocaeli, which is a drive of about 90-120 minute from Istanbul. The individual groups (ones working with Ford Otosan) met their Client contacts in person for the first time. Ford had planned for us, a tour around their innovative plant. For many of us, this was the first time inside an auto-manufacturing plant. It was exciting to say the least. We then went towards our hotel in the Kocaeli Area where we stayed just for that one night.
For many of us, that evening was the best part of the entire trip. Most of us went out to shop around Kocaeli at a mall. Since Kocaeli is far away from Istanbul, most things were relatively cheaper. But, what followed in the later part of the evening was unforgettable. This was the part when we enjoyed the Turkish Hospitality. The Hotel where we stayed in our visit in Kocaeli had the Turkish Bath and Kese. The process of Kese is like a body scrub done by the Hammam. There are some herbal mixes that are used to make your skin softer and cleaner. The massage that follows this process is extremely relaxing. If there is anything that I would recommend not to miss, when you are in Turkey is the Turkish Bath, massage and Kese.
We spent the next day with our individual group contacts at the Ford Office working on our team projects. This experience was valuable since this was our time to ask as many questions to them and understand Ford’s strategy on functions relevant to our projects. We had lunch with other Ford Otosan employees at the cafeteria in the plant. We came back to Istanbul the very evening. Burcu, our TA for the trip had been extremely kind in arranging tickets in a very short span of time for some of us who wanted to go to a concert at the Burcesehir University that night.
As I said, it kept getting better and better. If you are thinking that we have met as many big names in Turkey as possible in one trip, you are in for a major surprise. Friday began with a visit to the biggest bank in Turkey – ISInvestment. We were briefed on the state of the economy. The presentation focused on the securities and trading and foreign investment in Turkey.
This was followed by a visit to the Turkish Banks Association – I told you it just keeps getting better! This was amazing as we were given a presentation by the man himself – The Chairman of the Association. We discussed how Turkish banks were surprisingly not affected much through the global recession. If anything, the Turkish banks benefited through the downturn as the government reduced the Interest Rates. We also discussed the reasons behind the comparatively lesser drop in the Turkish economy during the global crisis in 2009. This was absolutely fantastic and possibly a once in a lifetime opportunity.
We ended the week at the Office of none other than Koc Holdings – The biggest name in Turkey’s Business Arena. The scenic view of the Bosphorus from the gorgeous campus was unbelievable. The next two sessions were based majorly on the core businesses of the Koc family group and the Corporate Social Responsibility efforts of the company.
This is not done yet guys. This is where our luck deserted us, partly I should say. Koc Holdings had arranged a dinner for us at a magnificent open restaurant. Guess what, it rained. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the Bosphorus evening from inside the restaurant. The food was exquisite at the very least. The guest at the dinner was the Director of Brand Management at Koc. This was now getting too much for us. If this was not RED CARPET, then what was??
We soon realized that this was yet, just the beginning !!