The Iron Lady Gülden Türktan

The Iron Lady Gülden Türktan

About her path to success 

Gülden Türktan achieves success in anything she takes up. She inspires and motivates many people around her. Her colleagues call her the Iron Lady and do not stop admiring her energy, commitment, and creative approach to solving issues. Ms. Türktan is the woman who has much to learn from. She is the woman who joyfully teaches. 

Gülden Türktan - The Founding President of W20 (2015-2016), the independent member at the boards of various large companies 

100 Years of Working Experience as a Board Member

Gülden Türktan graduated from the business and economics school. She worked in industry for a long time. For 20 years, our interviewee took several senior positions in the world famous electrical engineering company of ABB. At the time, the personnel used to call her the Iron Lady. Over the years of her work, Ms. Türktan worked at the boards of several large-scale companies simultaneously. Thus, now she has almost 100 years of overall professional experience in the Boards. Gülden Türktan is proud she had an honour to attend high-level events and address world leaders and CEOs of internationally known companies. 

Today, Ms. Türktan is an independent member at the boards of several companies. She also does business consulting and mentoring while maintaining several projects of her own, including construction ones. 

Gülden Türktan is devoting substantial attention to women’s empowerment. She was recently elected as the Chair of Turkey’s International Women’s Forum. Ms. Türktan became the first Founding President of W20. She is still actively participating in the organisation’s activity. She writes in her blog about the results of W20 work, as well as the relevant issues of women’s agenda. 

Our interviewee mentioned working in several directions is not easy. However, she saves her time by rescheduling it and uses it as efficient as possible.


First Steps to Success and the Spreadsheet Competition

Gülden Türktan is sure that the beginning of career sets the tone for all the further way and provides opportunities for great success. She herself began as a manager of a local ABB department. Our interviewee recalled one of her first tasks, which turned out a complex one. In addition to her regular workload, she had to consolidate the results of all the divisions in various ABB companies for three years. At the time, the data was in handwritten books and in old technology computer outputs, but no spreadsheets. Many people said that was a typical project of an inferior caliber that would be given to a woman. Besides, the mission seemed impossible, as she had to reconcile the records from the different sources of a long period. 

Gülden Türktan not only managed to get other people involved in that work, she also truly motivated them. Our heroine asked the people from accounting division to create a comparable historical data. For every subtotal that matched the grand total, she gave them the reward of one chocolate bar. Soon, the competition among the staff began. Every day, Ms. Türktan decided one or two winners. 

Our interviewee recalls: “With the framework I created, we succeeded in finishing the history of the whole company in the country in just three months. The tedious project turned out to be a success story”. 

The data obtained was very helpful. It helped learning about the sales history in the country. The figures turned out to be spectacular. Ms. Türktan shares: “Such data was compiled for the first time since the company merger. Everybody was not only amazed with the result, but also with the speed of us accomplishing it”. 

It was Gülden‘s first victory that made her famous in the company. The young woman leader realised that she shouldn’t listen to people confident that she would lose. It important to just move on, be able to find a common language with colleagues, and assure team that they are doing really important task. 

Not Only Wrong Gender But Also Wrong Age

“You will definitely face many obstacles especially if you are the Deputy Chair of the Board of prominent electrical engineering company. The same will happen if you are a woman investor that requires construction expertise outside the big city”, Gülden Türktan knows that firsthand. 

The people doubted that she could manage to be in charge of a huge operation. They often don’t take young women seriously. Once a very prominent senior lawyer told Gülden she had not only wrong gender but also wrong age to be head of legal affairs of such an important company with serious number of contracts where she was working at the time. He promissed to write a letter to the head office asking to release her from duties. However, Gülden Türktan continued working there and achieved great success. 

There were many such situations. Gülden Türktan thinks that there are social prejudice that women cannot take high posts and do their job well. Don’t take this as an obstacle, just move forward and show the whole world that it isn’t true.

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The Plan Is to Not Stick to the Plan

Economy is full of surprises. “Your initial plan will change as you begin to act. You will have to correct it according to macroeconomic changes, possibilities, and obstacles you will face on your way. The most important thing is that you will have to change yourself”, explains Gülden Türktan. There is no development and success without changes. You have to change the plan and seize every opportunity you can. 

“When I hear someone saying that it is needed to strictly stick to the plan I understand that person is doomed to failure. You can stick to the plan only if nothing changes”. 

However, Gülden mentions that you need an initial plan in any sphere of activity. It will be a distinctive baseline. 

Nothing Can Prevent You from Doing Right Things

Gülden Türktan always tries to do her best. “I understand that I am responsible for everything I do and my signature is on every document. That is why I must be precise and careful”, she mentions. 

To explain her acts is another one important principle of Ms. Türktan. It is important to learn to do right things in order to be a winner in any situation. “Nothing can stop you if you can explain why you do that”, thinks Gülden. 

She is sure that every person needs to remain themselves even if something goes wrong. Don’t expect understanding from anyone, you have to act, try to express your point of view, and continue doing things that are important and useful for society. 

Alone on the Top of an Iceberg

“Once you are at the height of success, you are on the top of an iceberg! Even if there are physically many people around you, you will feel you are alone most of the time. At the very top, you need to stand on your feet and to rely on yourself only. One should be ready for the fall. And, I believe, this is a part of success”, says Gülden Türktan. 

She has always been supported and inspired by her parents. After they left this world, her husband became her main support. “I feel very lucky, because all these close people in the family have been motivating factors for me. I wouldn’t imagine assurance of success without peace at home”, commented Ms. Türktan. According to Gülden Türktan, she saw many men and women who were deprived of their carrier track due to the lack of support from their families. 

Ms. Türktan’s parents taught her many things that were useful on her road to success. Gulden’s mother advised her not to waste her time and energy on negative things and never to give up in any circumstances. Her father taught her how to motivate people and helped her understand: even a small victory requires much effort and patience. 

Gülden Türktan recalls that in her childhood her father took her to his construction sites. People often told him that that was not a right place for a little girl. Then he answered: “She may look like a little girl, but she is a very smart and strong person”. That phrase keeps on inspiring her when she is a grown-up and successful woman and a great professional. 

Ms. Türktan’s husband is a CEO who can very well motivate, inspire, and encourage success of his personnel. It was he who became the source of energy and courage for every activity Gülden Türktan carries out now. 

How to Find Your Own Way to Success

Gülden Türktan has a dream of writing a book on management that will help make many people happier at their work places. “Happiness and success most of the time go hand in hand and we need to understand that to be successful in our career”, believes Ms. Türktan. 

According to her, there is no single way to success: “Every case you confront in life has more than one solution and what you do at the right moment at the right place also counts”. 

“Take the inspiration from what you read, see, meet and hear, but find your own way. If you can’t find a way, try to build a pathway for yourself. After all, all the roads are built by people”, she advises. 

Ms. Türktan took part in the Second Eurasian Women’s Forum. The Public Recognition awarding ceremony took place as part of the Forum. Gülden Türktan was extremely inspired by women who were awarded. They overcome all obstacles on their way and carry on helping people every day. 

“As we have all seen from the awarding ceremony, if you keep on walking in the right direction your success will be recognised and awarded at the end. All you need to do is to walk in the right direction in your own path”, she finished. 

Anna Repina, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community

Translated by Nikolay Boykov