The increase in foreign investments in Turkey has produced a parallel rise in the number of foreign executives. According to those who have previously lived in different countries, Turkey is not a very difficult country. But those who have left their native lands for the first time can find life a little difficult. As a result, expats want to meet with people who are like them and benefit from their experiences.
Foreign executives who come to Turkey for work come together in various associations and organizations with people from their own cultures and countries in order to get to know each other and to share their experiences. Moreover, as a result of these NGOs and associations which they have established they are able to make new business contacts and expand their social circles. These associations, which offer a broad range of opportunities, from social activities to help with finding solutions to problems they may face, provide support for new expats who are getting used to Turkey. Members have the chance to benefit from the experience, whether positive or negative, of others. What makes the Expat Suite different is that it brings together business leaders from many different countries.
The Most Sociable Expats
Many of the foreign businessmen who are well known in the Turkish business community belong to at least one association. For example, Sony Eurasia General Manager Mohsen Noohi is a member of associations and institutions such as Kemer Country, YASED, GM Club, British Businessmen’s Group (BBG). At YASED, Noohi follows the agenda and participates in the association’s activities as a foreign investor. The GM Club and BBG help members build on the connections they established with high level executives from other countries. Mohsen Noohi says that he likes to use Kemer Country for sports, playing tennis and squash and swimming with his children.
In any case, we can hardly call DHL Express Regional Director Michel Akavi a foreigner as he was born in Istanbul to a French mother and Italian father. Akavi is a very sociable expat. He is a member of the German Chamber of Commerce, the Italian Chamber of Commerce and the French Chamber of Commerce. In addition, he also a member of Professional Managers and Turk Trade. He is deputy board chairman of the Istanbul International Community School (IICS). The fact that Akavi is a member of Professional Managers shows that it serves as a serious, effective platform for the sharing of information between professional executives. Akavi participates in an average of three association meetings a month, as well as attending many functions in a social capacity.
Where Americans Meet
The Turkish American Businessmen’s Association (TABA/AMCHAM) is a very active association which brings together Turkish and American business people. TABA/AMCHAM has 850 members, including leading American companies in Turkey such as Philip Morris Sabancı, 3M, Colgate Palmolive, the Ritz-Carlton Istanbul and the American Hospital. Members meet once a month. Association officials explain the reason why American expats living in Turkey become members as follows: “We generally meet once a month depending on the activities and functions. This is a very important opportunity for them. The various receptions, openings, invitations, trips, cultural-artistic activities and the activities which we organize together with the US Commercial Attaché enable our members to establish connections not only with each other but also with commercial organizations coming from the US.”
In addition to being a communications platform for its members, TABA/AMCHAM
also creates an environment for the exchange of cultural, political and economic ideas between the two countries.
Where Do The British Socialize?
The place where the Britons living in Turkey socialize the most is the British Chamber of Trade. The association provides a social environment for a small number of British citizens living in Turkey. According to data from the British Chamber of Commerce, it has 76 members. Most of the British executives working in Turkey serve in posts such as board chairman, deputy chairman, company partner, sales and marketing manager, regional director and general manager.
Tim Bright, who is one of the members of the British Chamber of Commerce, is also the head of the British Business Group. The group has 100 members and meets regularly every month. Bright explains why expats join the association as follows: “These associations provide me both with the opportunity to meet other members of the business community and also to socialise with people from my own country. In addition. I also make presentations with the British Consulate on topics such as how to do business in Turkey.”
The Dutch And Germans
The Turkish-Dutch Businessmen’s Association has 260 members. 30 percent of them are Dutch. 70 percent of the member companies are Turkish companies with Dutch partners. The association provides Dutch expats with lots of opportunities for socializing. It organizes cultural activities, special celebrations during the year related to Dutch traditions and sports activities. Fortis Pensions and Life A.Ş. General Manager Barned Van Dam is of the association’s members. Van Dam says that they frequently come together to socialize. He explains the aims of the association as follows: “It provides a network for support to people and members of their families living outside their native lands and enables people to make friends.”
There Are 5,000 French People In Turkey
Their Associations Were Established 122 Years Ago
75 percent of the 250 French companies in Turkey are based in İstanbul. There are a total of 5,000 French people living in Turkey. The Turkish French Business Association employs 45 people. It was established in 1885 and represents both Turkish and French business people.
It Has Offices In İstanbul And İzmir
The headquarters of the Turkish French Business Association is in İstanbul and it also has a local office in İzmir. The association was established to assist with the development of commercial and economic relations between Turkey and France. There are 22 Turkish and French business people on its board.