The Amrop Digital Interviews: İrem Yüksel Göğüş, Türkiye

“There's a natural alignment between the strengths that female leaders bring and Amrop's core values.”

İrem Yüksel Göğüş is the Managing Partner and shareholder of Amrop Turkiye and the CIS, and a member of Amrop’s Global Digital Practice.

We spoke to her about being a female leader in the corporate world, the overlapping requirements for the new generation of leaders in FMCG and the digital sectors, being a member of the Amrop's Digital Practice Team, and the broader transformation within the Turkish tech landscape.

İrem Yüksel Göğüş

Can you talk a little about your professional experience prior to joining Amrop and how it has helped you shape your career with the company?

Before joining Amrop, I served as a managing partner in another firm, where I was responsible for building a robust client portfolio that encompassed multinational corporations, local conglomerates, and intricate cross-border assignments spanning diverse sectors. This gave me a broad perspective on various organizational needs and challenges. Before stepping into the executive search industry, my roots were in the fast-moving consumer goods sector. There, I grappled with multiple business challenges across different geographies, steered long-term strategic planning, and championed best-in-class implementation practices. I also led structural change management initiatives, fostered global stakeholder relationships, and led multifaceted teams. I believe this composite background provided me with a unique vantage point in the executive search field, enhancing my ability to network, to understand commercial needs, to manage stakeholders, and to provide leadership.

What drew you to the executive search industry and Amrop in particular?

In Amrop, I was particularly drawn to the exemplary cooperation between offices and the cutting-edge technological integration in our methodologies. The forward-thinking AI policies in CRM, GDPR compliance and Board/C suite assessment set us apart in the industry. The efficiency and functionality of Amrop's CRM portal has been pivotal in managing client relationships and streamlining operations. Furthermore, the company's commitment to sustainability is evident in its paperless / digital approach and great NGO support in this field. Being entirely sustainable and cloud-based ensures agility, security, effectiveness, and real-time collaboration across global teams. This progressive approach to technology has significantly improved the quality of our services and has been instrumental in driving successful outcomes for our clients.

As a female leader has it been your goal to mentor and inspire, and what has been your approach when it comes to that?

Throughout my professional journey, I've always believed in the importance of supporting and guiding others, especially as a female leader in the corporate world. The values of diversity, equity, and inclusion resonate strongly with me, and they played a significant role in my decision to join Amrop. The leadership of our female CEO, Annika, and the way she emphasizes the strengths of a diverse team were truly inspiring. Representing Amrop in Turkey, with a predominantly female team is something I cherish. There's a natural alignment between the strengths female leaders bring and Amrop's core values. Collaboration, empathy, and strategic vision come to the forefront in a team enriched by diverse experiences. At Amrop, we're dedicated to nurturing a setting where everyone can thrive, and I'm passionate about supporting that commitment.

Your focus at Amrop is now the digital and technology sectors. What’s your experience working with companies in the tech sector? What, in your view, are the qualities which are essential for leadership positions in the digital sector?

My journey in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector has allowed me to gain an intricate understanding of business challenges across diverse geographies and the importance of establishing a robust long-term strategy. The digital world and FMCG have seen a convergence over time, particularly in talent expectations and know-how. For instance, the same skills that enabled a product launch in FMCG, understanding consumer needs, leveraging data analytics, and swiftly adapting to market feedback, are becoming increasingly essential in the tech sector. Both sectors now prioritize agility, adaptability, and data-driven decision-making. My network and commercial knowledge accumulated from the FMCG world are incredibly relevant and beneficial in identifying leaders for tech roles today, such as CTOs, CDOs, and CPOs.

It's evident that every sector is now being shaped by digitization, and that places new requirements on leaders too.

Yes. The pace of change is unparalleled, and the tech sector has a unique culture that thrives on speed. They foster environments that are tolerant of mistakes, where outcomes are realized rapidly, and where decisions are predominantly data driven. This rapid tech-driven cultural shift has clear implications on leadership qualities. Leaders need to be agile, adaptable, and future-forward. They should also be resilient and tolerant of ambiguity, given the unpredictable nature of 'what’s next.' And while we might not always know exactly what the future holds, we can make educated predictions based on current trends and historical data. For the tech sector, I've observed an increasing emphasis on soft skills like adaptability, continuous learning, and cross-functional collaboration. Moreover, as technology becomes more embedded in our daily lives and business operations, there’s a rising need for skills that bridge technology and empathy. We foresee that as tech continues to evolve, the demand for leaders who can balance technical acumen with emotional intelligence, stakeholder management, and strategic foresight will grow substantially.

In your view, do the tech leaders always need to have previous experience in the sector or can that be learned on the job and perhaps there are more important factors. What is your process of assessing whether a candidate is a good fit for a leadership position in a digital company?

While technical acumen is essential in the industry, it's not the only criterion for leadership. Often, cross-industry experience at board and executive management levels can bring a unique and broader perspective to the table. There are numerous instances where CEOs have been successfully inducted from different sectors, emphasizing the richness of diverse backgrounds. It's this synthesis of diverse experiences that we value and never lose sight of in our search processes. For leadership in the tech domain, it's equally crucial to retain a keen understanding of the field, maintain consumer insights, emphasize commercial perspectives and P&L knowledge. Therefore, someone with a diverse background, supported by an academic background in Tech/Engineering field, followed by a stint in production, and then transitioning into a tech-focused company, can potentially offer a broader and more diverse skill set than someone solely immersed in deep tech.

You are a member of the Amrop’s Digital Practice which brings together specialists from Amrop’s offices around the globe with deep technology and digital knowledge and sector experience. What are the central benefits for you in being part of the Global Digital Practice?

Being a part of Amrop’s Global Digital Team is a unique privilege and offers multifaceted benefits. To begin with, the collective knowledge and expertise of this team is truly remarkable. By collaborating with seasoned professionals, I'm constantly inspired and informed about the latest trends and nuances within sub-sectors of the digital realm. Their expansive network is invaluable, especially for someone like me who transitioned into this domain from a different sector. Moreover, our cooperative team dynamic facilitates seamless access to global board and C-suite leaders. This not only makes our search processes efficient, but also ensures us to stay tuned with the evolving global talent landscape.

How do you see the further evolvement of Amrop’s Turkish Office, especially when it comes to projects that involve organizations within the tech industry?

In recent years, our Turkish office has witnessed significant growth, especially in technology field. This growth reflects the broader transformation in the Turkish tech landscape. We've expanded by multiple folds, and this expansion is a testament to the increasing significance and dynamism of the technology sector in Turkey. Turkey's tech sector is characterized by its vibrancy and rapidly evolving nature. Several sub-sectors, in particular Fintech, Gaming, Cybersecurity, stand out. For instance, cybersecurity has become paramount as businesses prioritize the protection of their data and infrastructure. Fintech is revolutionizing the financial world, with numerous startups offering innovative solutions that challenge traditional banking structures. Furthermore, the gaming industry in Turkey is booming, with Turkish game developers gaining international acclaim for their creations.

Beyond these insights, it's crucial to underscore Turkey's distinctive stance. Turkey, with its rich history, strategic location, and merger of cultures, serves as a nexus between the East and the West. More than just a bridge, we have a robust emerging market combining various markets and nations through its versatility. The country boasts a strong human capital base, which is pivotal for technological advancement and innovation.

This confluence of factors not only offers a unique perspective in the tech realm, but also positions Turkey as an attractive epicenter for global tech magnates and investors. In essence, the evolution of our Turkish office mirrors the broader transformation of the country's tech landscape. And as we move forward, we are excited to be part of this journey, contributing to the growth and internationalization of the Turkish tech sector.