The Turkey CAP team, comprised of nearly 20 GMBA students hailing from the United States, India, Taiwan, the US Virgin Islands and beyond, has been assigned a market entry project for Sutas, Turkey’s largest dairy producer. We have been split into three teams responsible for market entry, product development and finance. The teams have been hard at work, from market research, to client correspondence, to the compilation of Powerpoint decks and written reports- all designed to recommend how this dairy industry giant should to enter the US market most effectively.
Rather than delve too deeply into the project itself, this post will focus on our pre-departure cultural preparations. To prepare for our trip abroad, and to educate us about the current political, cultural and economic environment of Turkey, our class time has been spent engaged in various lectures and visits within DC. To begin our academic introduction to Turkey, we welcomed Mr. Urgas Ulku of the IIF, who presented an overview of the economic and business environment in Turkey, touching on topics such as the nature of corporate business in Turkey and Turkish business culture. The following week, we discussed cultural norms and frameworks within Turkey, including gender issues, religion, greetings, and the differences between traditional and modern cultural viewpoints. In order to prepare our taste buds for the delight of Turkish cuisine and the “magic of raki,” our class participated in an optional dinner at Café Divan in Georgetown. There, we feasted on mezze platters, kebabs, and kavuma, and those who were brave enough sampled the house ayran (for those who are not familiar, ayran is a sour milk yogurt beverage). A visit to the Turkish embassy enlightened us on the complicated and complex nature of Turkish foreign policy, and introduced us to the many strategic implications of Turkey’s unique location. Finally, we were visited today by Dr. Kemal Kirisci of Brookings Institute, who tied everything we have learned together into a comprehensive lecture on Turkish domestic and foreign policies, as well as the current status and implication’s of Turkey’s quest for entry into the European Union.
With one week left in our first year as MBA students, and our CAP departure looming on the horizon (2 weeks from today!!!), the Turkey CAP group is both excited and overwhelmed by what is to come. Thankfully, we have been well prepared to enter our host nation as informed and culturally aware guests.